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Rick Berg Anti Abortion Bill: In North Dakota, Anti Choice Legislation is the Norm

North Dakota

One hotly contested U.S. Senate seat is being eyed by North Dakota Democrat and former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp and Republican at-large Representative and former State Representative Rick Berg. In September, in the midst of the Akin and Mourdock and whoever else scandals, BuzzFeed broke the “news” that in 2007, Berg voted for a bill in the North Dakota State House that would have made “any woman who obtained an abortion guilty of a homicide crime — even if it were in the case of rape or incest.” The bill would have made seeking an abortion a Class AA felony, carrying a maximum sentence of life without parole.

Heitkamp was tied with Berg in a Mason-Dixon poll conducted in early October. However, more recent polling has Berg with a five to 10 point lead.

This extreme legislation hardly seems out of place in North Dakota. In 2011, the State House passed the Defense of Human Life Act, a Personhood bill that would have made abortion at all stages of pregnancy illegal. It would also “ban the destruction of human embryos that are created when a woman’s egg is fertilized outside her body.” It passed 68-25 in the House but was tabled in the Senate, thanks to Republican in-fighting.

Also last year, the legislature managed to pass a law effectively banning all medication abortion. The law was taken to court and opponents succeeded in winning a restraining order against its implementation, later seeking an injunction on grounds that it places an undue burden on women seeking medication abortions. The ban is still blocked by the injunction; the lawsuit has yet to be resolved.

North Dakota also requires parental consent, a 24-hour waiting period and state-directed counseling. The state limits public and private insurance coverage for abortion, and bans telemedicine and almost all public funding.

North Dakota elects a governor this year, and the Republican ticket is heavily favored in the latest polling (somewhere between a 14 and 30 point lead); neither are Republicans likely to give up their overwhelming control of the State House and Senate.

Editor's Note: With 12 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states. So far, we've gotten updates on: South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana ,Arkansas, Missouri, KentuckyMinnesotaIllinoisIowaMississippiMichigan, Indiana, Alabama, OhioFloridaGeorgiaD.C.South CarolinaNorth CarolinaVirginia and MarylandPennsylvaniaDelawareNew JerseyNew YorkWisconsinConnecticutVermont,  Massachusetts & Rhode IslandMaine & New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!

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