The 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?