by Steven Ertelt
April 24, 2007
Bismarck, ND (LifeNews.com) — The North Dakota state legislature gave final approval to a bill on Monday that would ban most abortions in the state once the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision. The measure would make virtually all abortions illegal except those in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.
The abortion ban would not go into effect until the attorney general recommends and the Legislative Council agrees that the abortion ban would be constitutional.
The state House approved the measure on a 68-24 on Monday and the Senate backed it Monday night with a 29-16 vote. The bill now heads to Gov. John Hoeven, who has said he would sign it.
Anyone who does an abortion under the ban would receive a maximum five year prison sentence and be fined $5,000.
The bill originally would have instituted the abortion ban immediately upon the high court overturning the landmark cases with the attorney genera’s input, but the Senate voted 26-21 to change it to require a special legislative session before it goes into effect.
Sen. Tracy Potter, a Democrat who proposed the change, told the Bismarck Tribune that it was a compromise between lawmakers who supported the original trigger law and those who didn’t.
"This is really what we want to do if Roe v. Wade is overturned," Potter said. "We want to deal with that issue then. We don’t want to do it beforehand."
Tim Stanley, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, has been lobbying against the bill but pro-life groups, including North Dakota Right to Life and the North Dakota Catholic Conference are supporting it.
Christopher Dodson, executive director of the latter group, told the newspaper the conservative rural state would have banned abortion already if not for Roe and expects legislators to support it.
Dodson said his group supports the bill because it doesn’t have prison terms and fines for women, like past abortions bans that the legislature has rejected.
Last June, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco signed a trigger law for that state and Dorinda Bordlee, a long-time pro-life attorney and vice president of the Bioethics Defense Fund, told LifeNews.com other states should follow Louisiana’s lead.
"Our approach to include a post-Roe activation clause, sometimes called a trigger clause, enabled the legislators to speak their hearts without abortion industry lawyer’s breathing down their backs," Bordlee explained.
"It allowed post-abortive women to educate the legislators about how abortion negatively impacted their lives in profound ways," Bordlee added. "Other states that choose to follow Louisiana’s lead will help build a consensus to reverse Roe."