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Published March 22, 2013, 02:55 PM

‘Personhood,’ Two Other Bills Limiting Abortions Pass in N.D.

North Dakota voters will decide if the state constitution should be amended to include that life begins at conception, if Gov Jack Dalrymple signs the resolution passed by the Legislature today.

By: TJ Jerke, Forum News Service

BISMARCK -- North Dakota voters will decide if the state constitution should be amended to include that life begins at conception, if Gov Jack Dalrymple signs the resolution passed by the Legislature today.

It is one three pieces of legislation restricting abortions passed Thursday, with one more bill awaiting a vote.

The Legislature already had passed two other laws restricting abortions. None have yet been been signed by the governor.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009, known as the “personhood bill,” passed the House by a 57-35 vote. Sponsored by Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, would be put on the 2014 general election ballot if signed into law by the governor. If passed by the voters, the constitution will include the language, “The inalienable right to life at every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

Opponents of the resolution believe it will define when life begins, arguing it would codify one religion’s view toward life. They say it would also make end of life decisions more difficult, questioning whether living wills could be upheld.

The Senate passed the measure in February by a 26-21 vote.

Two other bills are now ready to send to Dalrymple

Senate Bill 2368, defining life at fertilization and prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, passed through the House by a 60-32 vote. It was sponsored by Sen. Joe Miller, R-Park River.

The bill also would increase reporting requirements for abortions and prohibit a public higher education institution from contracting with an entity that performs or counsels in favor of abortions.

It does exempt an abortion in the case of a medical emergency.

The bill passed the Senate mid-February by a 30-17 partisan vote.

Senate Bill 2305, will require a physician performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility, passed the House with a 58-34 vote.

The bill was sent to the House by a party line 30-17 vote in the Senate. It is sponsored by Sen. Spencer Berry, R-Fargo,

Rep. Vernon Laning, R-Bismarck, carried the bill to the floor, said the bill will help protect women during complications.

“I certainly think a woman undergoing a procedure would want as many safety precautions as possible,” he said. “It ensures the physician is well qualified to address the problem.”

Rep. Kylie Oversen, D-Grand Forks, said the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, the state’s only abortion clinic, has only had to transport one patient from the clinic to the hospital in the past 10 years.

“We’re dealing with unnecessary bill,” she told the House floor.

Oversen said hospitals would require a physician to admit 10 patients per year to maintain admitting privileges.

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