Congratulations, North Dakota — you're now twice as awful as Arkansas, which earlier this month enacted a ban on all abortions occurring after 12 weeks. On Tuesday morning, Governor Jack Dalrymple signed three anti-abortion bills into law, the most drastic of which bans the majority of abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy.
According to a statement released by the governor's office, this ban is [unlikely to survive] a court challenge ... [but] this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade." In the governor's words, it "would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat."
This is problematic because the legislature does not specify how it would detect a fetal heartbeat. Most pregnant women do not receive their first ultrasound until 20 weeks of pregnancy, so even if they found out they were pregnant before six weeks, a transvaginal ultrasound would be necessary to find a heartbeat. The pregnant person would then be forced to consent to this invasive ultrasound in order to get an abortion, which could be construed as rape according to the FBI.
The other two bills Dalrymple signed will "require admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital for any physician who performs abortions" — which the governor admits is also more of a test to see how far he can take Roe — and will ban abortions "performed solely for the purpose of gender selection and genetic abnormalities."
Requiring privileges at a hospital is a direct attack on the only clinic left in the state that provides abortions. If no one has these privileges, there will be zero abortion providers left in North Dakota.
Meanwhile, banning prenatal screening is essentially redundant when combined with the six week abortion ban, as screening results that indicate an issue would still force the woman to continue her pregnancy. Prenatal testing does not usually occur until 10 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Dalrymple is also requesting funding for a litigation fund if the fetal heartbeat ban is challenged.
Although the state's recently passed personhood amendment will not appear as a voter measure until the November 2014 election, North Dakota's staunchly conservative government seems to be doing a fine job of eliminating women's reproductive rights on its own.