North Dakota passes restrictive abortion laws that may reach the Supreme Court

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f2096 (Published 4 April 2013)
Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2096

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  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

The North Dakota state legislature has passed three bills limiting abortions, which are the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States. One of them bans abortion from the moment that a heartbeat can be detected. Governor Jack Dalrymple signed them, almost certainly setting off lawsuits that will end up in the Supreme Court.

The legislature also approved a “personhood” amendment to the state constitution that will appear on ballots next year. It says, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

Personhood amendments have been put to voters in previous elections in several states and rejected. They are based on the idea that life begins at conception, defined as the union of sperm and egg. That would outlaw all abortions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says pregnancy begins when a fertilized …

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