North Dakota Gov. signs law making abortion a felony

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Update 4/25/23: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday signed the state’s pro-life law protecting all children from abortion beginning at six weeks. In the first six weeks, abortion would be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergency, though abortion is never medically necessary. The law makes committing an abortion a class C felony.

4/19/23: The North Dakota House passed a pro-life bill on Monday which aims to make committing or aiding in an abortion a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000. The vote passed along party lines, 76-14.

SB 2150 defines abortion as an act that carries “the intent to terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman … with knowledge the termination by those means will with reasonable likelihood cause the death of the unborn child.” Miscarriage treatment and treatment for ectopic pregnancy are not included in the bill’s definition of abortion.

The bill states that the procedure will not be considered an abortion if carried out to “prevent the death or a serious health risk to the pregnant female.” There is also an exception for rape and incest, allowing abortion for those girls or women through six weeks of pregnancy.

According to the bill, the woman who undergoes an illegal abortion would not face charges.

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In addition, the bill ensures that the state’s Department of Health & Human Services publishes information on the services available for women throughout pregnancy, fetal development, and the risks of an abortion, as well as the existence of abortion pill reversal.

The bill will move to the state Senate next and if it passes there, Gov. Doug Burgum is expected to sign it into law. However, it was just a month ago that the North Dakota Supreme Court declared a similar law to be unconstitutional. That law was a trigger law set to go into effect when Roe v. Wade was overturned, and, like SB 2150, it would have made committing an abortion a felony except in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life was at risk.

“We’re going to send another message to the North Dakota Supreme Court,” said House Majority Leader Mike Lefor. “This is what this Legislature wants. We want pro-life in North Dakota.”

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