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The North Dakota Senate has voted 30-17 to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, citing evidence of fetal pain.
The move is just the latest effort to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which was made long before much of today’s knowledge of the development of the unborn was acquired.
“I am really happy about this,” Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life, told WND today. “I am a huge advocate of these fetal pain bills” for she says that there is “a lot of evidence that babies 20 weeks and even earlier can experience pain.”
She said evidence shows “their nerves are heightened at this stage of development.”
Prohibiting these abortions, Monahan said, “is good for the baby and good for the mom.”
Critics allege the measure is in direct opposition to the 1973 ruling that nullified state laws barring abortion.
Monahan declined to comment on whether or not it will challenge the Supreme Court decision, but she said it “raises a lot of interesting questions” about the application of Roe v. Wade.
Republicans dominate the North Dakota Senate, holding more than two-thirds of the seats. They control 75 percent of the state House.
In addition to the new anti-pain plan, North Dakota lawmakers are proposing a “personhood” amendment declaring that “the inalienable right to life” applies to every human being “at every stage of development.”
North Dakota Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009, which already has had its first reading, centers on the Roe opinion, which states that if the personhood of the unborn would be established, the arguments for abortion would disintegrate. Supporters hope voters will get to decide the issue in the next election.
Also, in the North Dakota House of Representatives, HB 1456 has been introduced by Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo. The bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor for a physician to knowingly perform an abortion based on gender or on genetic abnormalities.
Last fall, Montana overwhelmingly passed LR-120. which enacted parental notification for minors who wish to have an abortion.
Additionally, in Virginia in early 2012, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed two resolutions. One declares that the rights of a human being apply from the moment of conception and the other requires a woman to have a ultrasound before having an abortion.
Monahan is pleased with the developments in North Dakota and in other states.
“We’ve seen over the last few years, hundreds of what we would call incremental bills [that will] decrease the number of abortions,” she said.
Just next door, in South Dakota, lawmakers recently favorably reviewed a plan to enhance an existing mandatory waiting period for abortions. The bill would not count weekend days in the three days that are required for the waiting period.
In South Dakota, several precedents have been set in the abortion battle in recent years. Just months ago, a federal appeals court affirmed the last provision of a long-disputed informed consent law in the state. The court determined that South Dakota can require abortionists to inform women seeking to terminate the lives of their unborn baby that they face an increased risk of suicide.
Attorney Harold J. Cassidy called the decision of the full 8th Circuit Court of Appeals “a fabulous victory for the women of the state of South Dakota.”
Cassidy represents Leslee Unruh, president of the Alpha Center of Sioux Falls, and Stacy Wollman, president of Care Net of Rapid City. They were allowed in intervene in the case filed by Planned Parenthood against the state’s new law.
“This victory represents the fourth separate decision of the 8th Circuit reversing the district court in this one case, two decisions issued by en banc (full) courts four years apart – a rare occurrence that underscores the importance of the issues presented by the case,” said Cassidy.
“As a result of this case upholding all eight major provisions of South Dakota’s Abortion Informed Consent Statute, pregnant mothers will now be informed: 1) that ‘an abortion terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being;’ 2) that the mother’s ‘relationship with that second human being enjoys protection under the Constitution of the United States and the laws of South Dakota;’ 3) ‘that relationship and all rights attached to it will be terminated;’ and 4) the abortion places the mother ‘at increased risk for suicide ideation and suicide,'” he said.
The judges wrote that Planned Parenthood’s own expert, Dr. Nada Stotland, “admitted that one of the studies, which determined a suicide rate after abortion of 31.9 per 100,000 as compared to a suicide rate after live birth of 5.0 per 100,000, ‘indicates an association; not causation, but an association’ between abortion and suicide.”
Commenting on the decision, Steven H. Aden of the Alliance Defending Freedom said “a woman’s right to make a fully informed choice is more important than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.”
“If Planned Parenthood truly cared about the well-being of women, it would not try to prevent them from being informed of the well-documented risk of suicide that accompanies abortion,” he said. “The 8th Circuit has done the right thing in upholding a reasonable law that protects the well-being of women by making sure that the truth is not hidden from them.”
The lawsuit was brought by Planned Parenthood against the state after the legislature in 2005 adopted the new informed consent requirements for abortionists.
Another new law adopted in South Dakota was subject to a second challenge by Planned Parenthood. The law requires that a physician have a personal interview with a woman seeking an abortion. The woman must be offered counseling by state-approved counseling centers before the abortionist can schedule the procedure.
The law also requires that an abortionist determine whether the woman is being coerced into the abortion and imposes a waiting period.