‘It’s a humanitarian issue’: North Dakota mulling bill to ban abortion in most circumstances

Baby in the womb
An image of an unborn child. |

A bill aimed at banning abortion with exceptions for certain circumstances is being considered in North Dakota at a time when some states are loosening their restrictions on the procedure.

Known as House Bill 1313, it was introduced by state Rep. Jeff Hoverson, who's also a pastor, on Monday, given first reading, and then referred to the Human Services Committee.

The legislation seeks to add abortion to the state’s preexisting laws against murdering an unborn child, which in current state law exempts abortion when performed by a licensed doctor.

HB 1313 does include a stated exemption for abortions performed “to save the life of the pregnant woman,” but not for reasons such as rape or incest.

“A person that intentionally or knowingly aids, abets, facilitates, solicits, or incites another person to commit an abortion is guilty of a class C felony,” the bill adds, with such a felony carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000.

North Dakota is one of several states that has a law in place that will trigger an abortion ban should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade.

However, Hoverson told The Associated Press that he did not trust the Supreme Court to make such a decision, stating that “I want North Dakota to take this matter into our own hands.”

“It’s a longshot, I know,” he also told the AP regarding how the legislature and the legal system are unlikely to support his bill. “But this is about babies crying and babies dying. It’s a humanitarian issue.”

Some believe Roe v. Wade might one day be overturned because President Donald Trump appointed three conservative-leaning judges to the Supreme Court.

In response, many states have either passed stricter laws regulating abortion, such as banning the practice once a baby's heartbeat can be detected, or have attempted to codify Roe v. Wade.

In 2019, on the anniversary of Roe, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act into law, which removed abortion from the state criminal code.

"The Reproductive Health Act is a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values," said Cuomo at the time he signed the RHA.

“In the face of a federal government intent on rolling back Roe v. Wade and women's reproductive rights, I promised that we would enact this critical legislation within the first 30 days of the new session — and we got it done.”

Recently, in response to the RHA, a group of New York residents filed suit against Cuomo and other state officials, arguing that it “changed New York law in ways that harm women and dehumanize children.”

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