North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has signed into law a near-total abortion ban, one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the US.
This Senate Bill 2150 defines abortion as “the act of using, selling, or prescribing any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman.”
The law only allows exceptions for rape or incest within the first six weeks of pregnancy, and only then if the procedure is “deemed necessary based on reasonable medical judgment which was intended to prevent the death or a serious health risk to the pregnant female.” An exception is also made for efforts to treat an ectopic or molar pregnancy at any stage of pregnancy.
Abortion rights activists have fiercely objected to similar bans, saying most women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks.
The bill joins other GOP-led legislation aimed at restricting abortion access and follows a legal battle over a 2007 trigger law that was blocked by a district judge last year.
North Dakota’s new law makes it a felony for physicians who violate the abortion ban, and it requires that any woman seeking an abortion must be offered the opportunity to see an “active ultrasound” at least 24 hours before the scheduled procedure. Any physician who fails to comply could face a misdemeanor charge.
In a statement, Governor Burgum said the bill “clarifies and refines existing state law which was triggered into effect by the Dobbs decision and reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state.”
The law comes as part of a growing trend of GOP-led legislation aimed at restricting abortion access in a post-Roe v. Wade world. Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Texas have all passed similar six-week bans, sparking legal challenges.
The near-total abortion ban in North Dakota is just the latest in a string of laws aimed at restricting reproductive rights across the country. It remains to be seen how the law will be enforced and if it will be challenged in court.