Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse: North Dakota’s Newest Abortion Bans

Yep, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, North Dakota pushes into law what is undoubtedly the most anti-choice legislation to ever crawl from the bowels of uberconservative hell.  Did they think that this week’s Supreme Court deliberations would mean that progressives weren’t paying attention?

Governor and misogynist douchecanoe Jack Dalrymple signed three different anti-choice measures on Tuesday after they successfully passed through the House and Senate despite massive protests. Even Republicans in the state broke party lines and denounced the measures as being far too extreme. In a party that is becoming steadily more radical, that says a lot. When you start to lose the support of dedicated party members, it’s probably a good indicator that you’re being a little extreme. The three bills include the most radical and destructive abortion ban in the country as well as other extreme restrictions.

The most notable of the three bills is a “fetal heartbeat” bill, the likes of which I shredded in an article a few weeks ago. Now it isn’t just a fear, it will be a reality come August 1st unless a judge places an injunction against it. The bill, HB 1456, forbids a doctor from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. A fetal heartbeat can occur as early as six weeks, before many women even know that they’re pregnant. It’s been my experience that the only women who tend to realize they’re pregnant before the six week mark are the ones who are actively trying to get a bun in the oven. Providing an abortion after this arbitrary mark means that a doctor could (and would) be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

Even if a woman wants to be pregnant, circumstances may still arise in which she chooses to have an abortion. Usually this has something to do with maternal health or a genetic abnormality within the fetus. Well, too bad for those women! HB 1305 effectively bans abortions based on genetic abnormalities or the sex of the fetus. Violating this bill would level a Class C felony against abortion providers. It’s almost like they expect HB 1456 to be struck down, seeing that sex and most genetic abnormalities can’t be detected at a mere six weeks. Even if HB 1456 is struck down as being unconstitutional (which it definitely is), North Dakota body fascists will have this to rely on.

The third bill is SB 2305, which Think Progress and many other political journalists consider to be the most damaging of the three. I know you’re wondering how this could get any worse, but welcome to the War on Women! SB 2305 requires that any doctor performing abortions be licensed in North Dakota and have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Just how many hospitals in North Dakota are going to give an abortion doctor privileges? If you’re thinking none, you’re on the same line of thinking as the lawmakers, who are counting on hospitals to deny privileges to any abortion provider. This effectively outlaws abortion clinics and women’s health outpatient clinics, where most women go to have their abortions. Governor Dalrymple has even admitted that he signed HB 1456 into law to with the hope that a challenge to the bill will eventually lead to a Supreme Court battle that overturns Roe v. Wade.

HB 1456 is clearly unconstitutional, as is HB 1305. It is expected that these bills will be challenged and that an injunction will prevent them from going into effect this August. Anti-choicers are relying on SB 2305 to do the real dirty work and effectively end legal abortion in North Dakota. Illegal abortion will continue on as it always has, maiming and killing women all because a bunch of zealots decided to impose their morals on other people’s bodies. But I’m sure those who voted for the law think they’re getting what they deserve, despite legislating such deleterious restrictions under the guise of women’s health.

Ten years ago I never would have thought this was possible. I would have chalked such bills up to a conservative fantasy that surely would never become reality. My biggest concern at the time, as a pubescent 13-year-old girl with a terrifyingly anti-choice mother, were parental consent and notification laws. That was as bad as I thought it would get. I was worried about the “partial-birth” abortion ban and late-term access. I never dreamed that I would live in a United States that was seriously considering “personhood” movements that would ban birth control and outlaw all abortion. I didn’t think I would see the day where the War on Women reared its revolting head and legislated women’s bodies to the extent that HBs 1456 and 1305 seek to. The only way to keep the front from advancing is to fight back and let North Dakota know that we will not stand for this, that we won’t go back to abortions with dirty tools on old mattresses. We won’t go back to a time where our only option was to wield a wire coat hanger and hope. At least I hope we won’t.

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