North Dakota Voters Could Effectively Ban All Abortions

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The governor of North Dakota has signed into law legislation effectively banning most abortions in the state.

One measure outlaws the procedure if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Another makes North Dakota the first state to ban abortions based on genetic defects like down syndrome.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple also endorsed a law requiring doctors performing abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges.

T he measures are set to take effect Aug. 1. Dalrymple acknowledged that a court battle is likely after Tuesday's signing.

Earlier this week, the North Dakota House approved a "personhood amendment" measure, 57-35, saying life begins at conception.

The state Senate passed the bill last month. The measure allows North Dakotans the chance to vote next year on the amendment, November 2014. If voters pass it, it would basically ban abortions in that state.

Critics of the amendment call it unconstitutional. They point to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion until a fetus is considered viable. That's about 22 to 24 weeks.

North Dakota legislators also agreed to ban abortion at 20 weeks, with only medical emergencies qualifying for exemption.

"This deals with the health and safety of women having abortions," state Rep. Vernon Laning, R-Bismarck, said, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

The Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo serves as the only abortion clinic in the state. It claims the mandate would effectively "regulate abortion out of existence," according to the clinic's website.

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