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North Dakota Senate approves “heartbeat” abortion ban

North Dakota Senate approves “heartbeat” abortion ban

The North Dakota Senate approved what would be the most restrictive abortion law in the United States on Friday, a measure banning the procedure in most cases once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks.

Senators also approved a second bill on Friday that bans abortions based solely on genetic abnormalities, the first state ban of its kind if signed into law. The bill would also ban abortions based on the gender of the fetus, which would make North Dakota the fourth state to ban sex-selection based abortions.

The bills, which passed the state House of Representatives last month, now head to Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple, who has not indicated whether he would sign them into law. He is expected to receive the bills on Monday.

The “heartbeat” bill provides exceptions if an abortion would prevent the death or irreversible impairment of a pregnant woman but no exceptions for rape. It sets up a direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in 1973.

Several states ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Arkansas lawmakers earlier in March approved a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy that could take effect in August if it survives expected legal challenges.

Republican state Senator Spencer Berry, a bill sponsor, said 40 years of medical advancements should not be ignored.

“The images and heartbeat from the womb provide strong and overwhelming evidence of – at the very least – potential life,” Berry said. “And we have been instructed by the Supreme Court to protect that very potential.”

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