Legislation /

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum Signs Six Week Abortion Ban

The law is temporarily blocked from taking effect by the state's Supreme Court

Abortions can no longer be performed after six weeks of pregnancy in North Dakota.

Governor Doug Burgum signed the new restrictions into law on April 24. Abortions are permitted to be performed if the pregnancy was conceived through rape or incest during the first six weeks. There is also an exception in the case of a medical emergency.

“This bill clarifies and refines existing state law … and reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state,” Burgum said in a statement, per AP News. North Dakota had previously passed an abortion restriction trigger law in 2007 and a ban on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected in 2013.

The latest bill had significant support in the state House, where it was passed 76-14, and in the Senate, 42-5.

“North Dakota has always been pro-life and believed in valuing the moms and children both,” state Senator Janne Myrdal, who sponsored the bill, told reporters. “We’re pretty happy and grateful that the governor stands with that value.”

Under Senate Bill 2150, performing an abortion is a class C felony. Violation of the law is punishable by up to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine. Women who undergo an abortion cannot be prosecuted.

While the new law is written to take immediate effect following the governor’s signature, the North Dakota Supreme Court issued an injunction in March following a lawsuit from the Red River Women’s Clinic. The clinic is the only abortion provider in the state and has claimed the North Dakota constitution protects the right to abortion. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade during the summer of 2022, the clinic moved across the state border into Moorhead, Minnesota.

“Boo! We are watching and are disappointed that Governor Burgum signed this egregious infringement on bodily autonomy,” the clinic tweeted on April 24.

Burgum, a Republican, commended the Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision returns power to the states where it belongs,” Burgum said in a statement on June 24. “Our administration has consistently supported pro-life legislation and this decision is a victory for the many North Dakotans who have fought so hard and for so long to protect the unborn in our state.”

“We will now work diligently with the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office to fulfill our constitutional duty by carrying out the 2007 legislation that is triggered by the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” he continued. “We must now turn to prioritizing women’s health, including expectant mothers and children in need.”

Abortion is banned after six weeks of pregnancy in several other states including Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Kentucky. Some states, such as Georgia, have adopted a six-week abortion limitation but cannot enforce the law amid pending legal challenges. In total, 31 states ban abortion after a certain point in pregnancy.

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