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Published April 02, 2013, 09:31 PM

House, Senate agree on last abortion bill proposed

North Dakota House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on the lone abortion bill still being worked on. The "fetal pain" bill bans abortions after twenty weeks. The House and Senate passed two different versions of the bill, forcing it to go to conference committee, but the group reached a quick compromise.

North Dakota House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on the lone abortion bill still being worked on. The "fetal pain" bill bans abortions after twenty weeks. The House and Senate passed two different versions of the bill, forcing it to go to conference committee, but the group reached a quick compromise.

A group of six legislators made up from the House and Senate decided the best way to move Senate Bill 2368 forward is as the Senate passed it. The legislation is often refereed to as the fetal pain bill. It outlaws abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that point.

The conference committee voted unanimously to remove an amendment the House added to the bill preventing tax dollars from going to entities that provide counsel for or refer abortions. The amendment threatened a $1.2 million federal grant to NDSU for voluntary sex education to Fargo area teens with parental approval.

Sen. Spencer Berry, (R) Fargo: "There were concerns with the bill as amended by the House as it related to, language in there as it related to higher education. Different thoughts, would it have numerous tentacles into impact in doctors offices and universities. Concerns on this that was not the intent of the bill."

Senate Bill 2368 is one of several anti-abortion bills the North Dakota legislature has approved this session. Governor Dalrymple signed three bills last week. One of them, very similar, bans abortion if a heartbeat is detected -- which is usually after six weeks. Senator Berry says the legislation is not redundant.

Berry: "This particular area is going into the abortion control act. The language that has to do with this. So therefore when it comes to fetal pain, this is a necessary portion to add to our code."

Berry says several other states have passed fetal pain bills. Idaho was the first state to have the fetal pain law rejected by a federal judge last month.

Berry: "If we devalue life at any stage of development it tends to have a societal impact and we start to devalue life at every stage. I want us to promote life at every stage. I hope that's what the people of ND see happening."

While Dalrymple has signed three anti-abortion bills, the Governor will not comment on the bill or his position on the legislation until he sees the final version. Both chambers will now vote on whether or not to accept the conference committee's action.

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