North Dakota state lawmakers on Friday sent the state’s Republican governor two pro-life bills, one banning abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and another prohibiting women from having an abortion because a fetus has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome. They would be the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S.
The state’s only abortion clinic is in Fargo, and abortion-rights advocates say the measures are meant to shut it down. They urged the governor to veto the bills.
Outside of Fargo, the nearest abortion clinics are four hours to the south in Sioux Falls, S.D., and four hours to the southeast in Minneapolis.
North Dakota is one of several states with Republican-controlled Legislatures and GOP governors that is looking at abortion restrictions. Arkansas passed a 12-week ban earlier this month that prohibits most abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected using an abdominal ultrasound. That ban is scheduled to take effect 90 days after the Arkansas Legislature adjourns.
North Dakota’s measure doesn’t specify how a fetal heartbeat would be detected. Doctors performing an abortion after a heartbeat is detected could face a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Women having an abortion would not face charges.