ND lawmakers introduce abortion legislation to rework existing laws

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 11:46 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Lawmakers in Bismarck are introducing legislation that would rework the state’s abortion laws.

In short, the proposed bill shores up the language in the state’s existing abortion laws.

First, it clarifies that doctors who perform an abortion aren’t in charge of providing the burden of proof. As the law stands, doctors need to provide what’s called an affirmative defense when they perform an abortion in the case of rape or incest. This bill would place that burden on the state.

The bill would also explicitly allow doctors to treat ectopic pregnancies, where an egg is fertilized outside of the uterus, which can be dangerous and require medication or surgery to terminate. The current law is unclear on that.

“Confusion could exist as to which law would be violated when more than one statute encompasses the prohibited act. So, ultimately the question presented by Senate Bill 2150 is not about whether a person supports or opposes abortion bans, it’s about whether we want a clearer or better statute,” said Christopher Dodson with the North Dakota Catholic Conference.

Monday, the committee heard from a number of gynecologists who spoke in favor of the bill, not necessarily because they held a pro-life stance, but rather because it would allow them to practice without the fear of being prosecuted for saving a patient’s life.

This isn’t the only piece of abortion-related legislation on the docket for this Legislative session. By our count, at least five other bills might be considered “pro-life” bills. Those include tax credits for people who adopt, recognizing January 22 of every year as “Right-to-Life” day in North Dakota, and criminalizing “forced or coerced abortions,” among others.