The North Dakota legislature has approved a bill to revise and update the state’s abortion ban so it will be upheld in court and save babies from abortions.
The bill, which has been approved on a veto-proof majority, will now go to Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, who is expected to sign it into law. The measure would implement the ban on abortions starting at six week,s when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. The bill passed with a 42-5 vote.
Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court rejected a request from state Attorney General Drew Wrigley to lift an injunction temporarily blocking the life-saving law until the courts issue a final ruling on its constitutionality.
The abortion ban, which passed in 2007, was supposed to go into effect last summer after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but the only abortion facility in North Dakota, the Red River Women’s Clinic, sued the state and a judge quickly blocked the law.
The abortion facility since has moved across the border to Moorhead, Minnesota; but it still is challenging the law. In the mean time, abortions are legal but mostly unavailable in North Dakota.
But to make sure the abortion ban is upheld and women and children protected, the state legislature approved this bill to update the law to conform with requirements from the state’s highest court so it can be enforcfed and protect babies.
“Part of it was to try to help address the Supreme Court ruling that didn’t exactly come out in favor of North Dakota’s current abortion laws, so I think this better helps clarify things,” House Human Services Committee Chair Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield,explained about the bill.
Chief Justice Jon Jensen, who wrote the unanimous opinion, said the abortion facility “likely” will succeed in its argument that “there is a fundamental right to an abortion in the limited instances of life-saving and health-preserving circumstances.”
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According to Slate, Jensen quoted the state constitution, which grants all residents the right “of enjoying and defending life and liberty” and “pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”
These guarantees “implicitly include the right to obtain an abortion to preserve the woman’s life or health,” the chief justice continued. Although “the legislature can regulate abortion, it must do so in a manner that is narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling interest,” he wrote.
Pro-life laws do allow exceptions for the life of the mother, but “health” is a much broader term that activist judges have interpreted widely to allow unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason.
Slate, a leftist pro-abortion news outlet, noted this, too, writing:
At a minimum, the ruling surely mandates great deference to a doctor’s judgment about when termination is necessary to preserve “health.” But it may also safeguard abortion rights more broadly. The opinion also points to medical journals published shortly after North Dakota’s statehood noting that being “mentally unfit” was a legitimate reason for an abortion, raising the possibility that mental health may sometimes justify termination today. Presumably, the ruling’s exact contours will be sussed out in future decisions.
In recent years, approximately 1,100 unborn babies were aborted in North Dakota annually. It is not clear if the Red River abortion facility plans to move back if its lawsuit succeeds.
North Dakota is one of several states that are battling in court to legally protect unborn babies from abortion. Currently, 14 other states are enforcing pro-life laws that ban or strictly limit abortions, saving more than 100,000 unborn babies’ lives.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a historic victory for life and returned the power to legislate abortion to the people. Because of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, states may protect unborn babies from abortion for the first time in nearly 50 years. New research estimates state pro-life laws saved as many as 10,000 unborn babies’ lives in just the first few months.
All pro-life laws allow abortions when the mother’s life is at risk and, in some states, cases of rape and incest. These make up a very small percent of all abortions in the U.S. Research from the Charlotte Lozier Institute found about 96 percent of abortions are for purely elective reasons.