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North Dakota's Efforts to Ban Abortion Put Women Back 100 Years

Conservative state looks to push its agenda on the national level as others compete for title of 'most restrictive'

Common Dreams staff

State legislators in North Dakota are on the verge of passing the most regressive measure in the nation aimed at outlawing a women's right to an abortion after only five weeks of pregnancy.

As Bloomberg reports:

House Bill 1456 would make it a felony for a doctor to perform a non-emergency abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as five or six weeks. House Bill 1305 would prohibit abortions sought because a fetus has been or could be diagnosed with any genetically inherited defect, disease or disorder.

And ThinkProgress' Tara Culp-Ressler explains how this fits into a national push by anti-choice activists and religious zealots trying participating in a race to erase the gains made for reproductive rights in the last century:

So far this year, anti-choice lawmakers in Arkansas and North Dakota have practically tripped over each other to see which state can impose more abortion restrictions. Arkansas initially pulled into the lead by imposing two stringent restrictions, a 20-week abortion ban and, later, a stricter 12-week ban. But North Dakota may be ready to raise the stakes once again. Republican lawmakers are advancing a “fetal heartbeat” measure to outlaw the procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even realize they’re pregnant, and they expect to have enough support to push it though.

And Steven Romeo at PolicyMic adds:

North Dakota has crossed its boundaries by legislating morality. The conservative state is looking to push its agenda on the national level by setting the stage for other states to follow in their footsteps. This pressure will force the Supreme Court of the United States to revisit Roe v. Wade, which solidified the right to privacy and opened up the gateway for numerous abortion and privacy rights cases.

"Unfortunately," writes Culp-Ressler, "this isn’t the only egregious affront to reproductive rights that women in North Dakota have to worry about. State lawmakers are also considering an even more radical “personhood” measure that would outlaw abortion altogether, as well as some forms of contraception. And, despite the fact that there’s just one abortion clinic left in the state, anti-choice Republicans are attempting to advance legislation that would force it to close its doors."

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