Women Protest As North Dakota Governor Strips Them Of Their Reproductive Freedom

Supporters of Red River Clinic in Fargo, ND demonstrate.

Anti-abortion protesters are met by counter-demonstrators showing their support for the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, ND. Photo from www.inforum.com.

North Dakota is now home of the most extreme anti-abortion laws in America. On Tuesday, Governor Jack Dalrymple (R) signed three anti-abortion bills into law as hundreds of women protested the measures. The worst of the three is HB 1456, which bans abortion upon detection of a fetal heartbeat. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks, meaning this law effectively bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The law has even more devastating effects for women. ThinkProgress notes:

HB-1456 states that “an individual may not perform an abortion on a pregnant woman before determining, in accordance with standard medical practice, if the unborn child the pregnant woman is carrying has a detectable heartbeat” — and transvaginal ultrasounds are the standard medical practice for determining a fetal heartbeat in early pregnancies.

So if a pregnant woman wants an abortion at six weeks, she will be forced to undergo an invasive transvaginal probe before she can go through with the procedure.

Arkansas and Kansas are also considering fetal heartbeat bills, and considering the race among state level Republicans to make their states the most extreme when it comes to abortion law, it’s only a matter of time before one of these states or another pass a similar law.

The Governor also signed HB 1305, the second of the three anti-choice bills, to ban gender selective abortions and abortions performed in cases where the fetus has a genetic defect. The ban on gender selective abortions is confusing to say the least. How will lawmakers determine if a woman is having a gender selective abortion? Can just anybody accuse a woman seeking an abortion of being gender selective? If so, this law could stop any abortion from taking place. And how about women who want to abort a fetus that is braindead? Under HB 1305, women will be forced to carry such pregnancies to term.

Finally, SB 2305 was also signed into law. Also called a TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) bill, it will force all doctors who perform abortions to gain admitting privileges at a local hospital. At least one of the two hospitals located near Red River Women’s Clinic will not provide the required admitting privileges, because RRWC’s quality of care is too high to require sending patients to a hospital. In effect, this law could force the closure of the only full service women’s clinic in the entire state.

The three abortion laws are in addition to the personhood ballot measure. which passed last week. This measure bans all abortion by declaring that life begins at conception and will go before North Dakota voters in November 2014.

Republicans, including Governor Dalrymple, agree that the laws will be challenged in court at taxpayer expense, and Nancy Northrup of the Center for Reproductive Rights condemned the laws as “a new standard for extreme hostility toward the rights and health of women, the U.S. Constitution, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent. Northrup went on to say that these laws “relegates the women in their state to a second class of citizens,” and promised that “we will not allow this frontal assault on fundamental reproductive rights to go unchallenged.”

Because of this law, women have lost their right to choose in North Dakota. Conservative anti-abortion fanatics have been crusading against reproductive freedom since Roe v. Wade decided the issue four decades ago. And in North Dakota, Republicans have finally legalized reproductive slavery. It’s a sad day for women across the state.