Right on the heels of the North Dakota House passing a mind-numbingly restrictive "fetal personhood" amendment, Gov. Jack Dalrymple has just signed three abortion-limiting bills into law, effectively outlawing abortions in North Dakota after six weeks of pregnancy.
The "fetal personhood" amendment, which will be put to voters as a November 2014 ballot measure, sailed through the North Dakota Senate last week with a vote of 57-35. On Tuesday, Dalrymple acknowledged the looming likelihood of a bitter court battle, and suggested that state lawmakers set aside some rainy day litigation money.
According to Inforum, Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota's only abortion clinic, has already contacted the clinic's attorneys at the Center for Reproductive Rights to challenge ballot HB 1456 (which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected) before it takes effect August 1, 2013. Center for Reproductive Rights CEO Nancy Northrup threw down the gauntlet after Dalrymple signed the three bills into law, assuring the lawmakers of North Dakota in a press release that their attempt to turn the state into a anti-choice hellscape will not go unchallenged:
North Dakota has set a new standard for extreme hostility toward the rights and health of women, the U.S. Constitution, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent. We will not allow this frontal assault on fundamental reproductive rights to go unchallenged.
We don't need to guess about the brutal harm this criminalization of abortion will cause. We know from the United States' own shameful history prior to Roe v. Wade and from examples around the world that women desperate to end a pregnancy will find ways to do so whether it is safe and legal or not-and some will suffer and die as a result.
Governor Dalrymple and anti-choice politicians in North Dakota have relegated the women in their state to a second class of citizens today whose constitutional rights are lesser than those of other states where women's rights are protected and guaranteed. We intend to take every legal step possible to ensure this blatant assault on women's fundamental rights is struck down.
In addition to HB 1456, the fetal heartbeat bill, Dalrymple signed HB 1305 and SB 2305, which would, respectively, ban abortions "performed solely for the purpose of gender selection and genetic abnormalities," and "require admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital for any physician who performs abortions in North Dakota." Although presiding officers from the North Dakota House and Senate also acknowledged that HB 1456 might not survive a court challenge, they described the bill as a "legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade."