• Tue, Mar 26 2013

Well North Dakota, At Least You Didn’t Pass Personhood…

abortionThe North Dakota legislature has been extremely busy this year passing every anti-abortion measure that they could dream up. And as the bills started to pile up on Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple‘s desk, the main question became, “Which one would he sign?” Well, it looks like we have an answer.

Consider this a game of Goldilocks and Three Bears, except with women’s reproductive rights. There was the 20-week ban on abortions, that would’ve put North Dakota in line with states like Arizona and still posed a serious challenge to Roe v. Wade. But that ban was too limited. There was the Personhood bill, which would have declared that life begins at conception and been the most severe restriction on women’s rights in the country. But those ladies get testy when you threaten their birth control. Personhood was too big.

Just like Goldilocks, Governor Dalrymple had to find the right balance of encroachment on rights without inciting a full-scale riot. So now, we have North Dakota’s 6-week abortion ban, with an added measure that prohibits abortion based on genetic defects.

As it stands, North Dakota only has a single abortion clinic, operating in Fargo. Legislators have been attempting to close the clinic through a variety of legal measures for some time. But the extreme bills passed by North Dakota today indicate that the state is ready to do more than eliminate abortion in the extremely conservative state. Obviously, North Dakota is looking for a national challenge.

This law, which is supposedly based on the idea that an abortion should not be performed once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, is destined to be challenged in the Supreme Court. It is more extreme than any of the other anti-abortion measures passed around the country, many of which are already subject to legal challenges. It also doesn’t specify exactly how doctors will figure out if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That early in the pregnancy, it could only be found through transvaginal ultrasound. At six weeks, many women don’t even know they’re pregnant.

Today, we could be outraged at this state’s horrible trampling of reproductive rights. (And believe me, there’s some serious outrage going on in the Mommyish offices.) But I’m going to try being slightly optimistic. I mean, with Personhood looming over our heads, I guess things could have been worse?

(Photo: thanapun/Shutterstock)

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  • Blueathena623

    I read something the other day, and darn if I can find it again, but it was a religious scholar’s debate that the whole life at conception or heartbeat thing is wrong, because the scriptures say (and he quoted examples) that life begins at first breath, so a baby unable to breathe by itself is not living as seen by god. It was an interesting article, to say the least, and even more so because he is personally anti abortion.

    • LindsayCross

      That sounds very interesting! I’m not hunting to find it. I’ll share the link if I do!

  • ChopChick

    You do realize that the personhood thing is an amendment to the ND constitution and therefore will be on the ballot, yes?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2013/03/22/north-dakota-personhood_n_2934503.html

    Time for an edit!

  • Fabel

    “…with an added measure that prohibits abortion based on genetic defects.”

    Wow. Sorry, no. I can’t take a “things could’ve been worse” stance on this— this is pretty bad,