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North Dakota legislature passes measure outlawing abortions

The North Dakota House of Representatives [official website] approved legislation on Friday that bans abortion by defining life as beginning at conception. The legislation, known as the personhood measure, passed by a vote of 57-35 [AP report]. The North Dakota Senate approved the measure in February. To become law, the personhood measure needs to be approved by voters, and will likely appear on the November 2014 ballot. The personhood measure comes on the heels of two other North Dakota bills restricting abortion [JURIST report]. One bill [HB 1305, text, PDF] would ban non-emergency abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The other bill [HB 1456, text, PDF] would ban abortions sought because of genetic abnormalities.

A number of states have passed restrictive abortion bills recently. Earlier this month the Arkansas legislature voted to override [JURIST report] Governor Mike Beebe's recent veto of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act [Act 301, PDF], which bans abortions "of an unborn human individual whose heartbeat has been detected ... and is twelve (12) weeks or greater gestation." Six days earlier Arkansas lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto [JURIST reports] of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [HB 1037, PDF] which bans most abortions in the state 20 weeks after conception. That law made Arkansas the eighth US state to ban or restrict abortions after 20 weeks. Similar laws restricting reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] are currently facing legal challenges in Arizona and Georgia [JURIST reports].

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