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N.D. senate bill further restricts abortions

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BISMARCK, N.D. (CNS) — The North Dakota Catholic Conference applauded the state Senate’s passage March 15 of a bill that would ban abortions for the purpose of sex selection or genetic abnormality and another bill that would ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which could be as early as six weeks.

The bills were already approved by the House and now head to the desk of Gov. Jack Dalrymple. The conference, which is the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, urged the governor to sign the measures. If he does, North Dakota would become the first state to prohibit abortion for reasons of genetic abnormality. After a failed attempt to strip the genetic abnormality portion from H.B. 1305, the Senate passed the bill 27-15. H.B. 1456, the fetal heartbeat bill, passed 26-17 with no debate.

The bill to prohibit abortions when the heartbeat of the unborn child is detected “does raise some new legal questions,” but the questions are without merit, said Christopher T. Dodson, executive director of the Catholic conference. “Currently, the U.S. Supreme Court only allows states to protect unborn life after the point of viability, which is when an unborn child can survive outside the womb,” he said in March 12 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The Supreme Court chose viability because it understood viability to be a significant marker of human development. Close reflection, however, reveals that viability is not a measure of human development,” he continued.

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