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Published May 03, 2013, 10:37 PM

Heartbeat Regulation Part Two: Why is North Dakota the first to pass strict abortion laws?

If you tuned in last night at 10, we gave you part one of our abortion series, Heartbeat Regulation, an in-depth look at the potential timeline and court battle the state faces. Tonight we examine why it's North Dakota that's the first state to pass the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

If you tuned in last night at 10, we gave you part one of our abortion series, Heartbeat Regulation, an in-depth look at the potential timeline and court battle the state faces. Tonight we examine why it's North Dakota that's the first state to pass the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

Pro-life advocates say lawmakers have finally followed through on North Dakota's belief that abortion is wrong. But, this state is one of few with a budget surplus and some believe that's why the historically red state finally passed these stringent laws.

The last time North Dakota voted blue was in 1916 for Woodrow Wilson's second-term victory... one would assume the state would lean right on most issues.

Mitch Mraovic, Dusek Law Associate: "The democrats are going to fight it and I just think it's always going to be that way."

Bil Sponsor Bette Grande says legislators who fought for these laws are standing strong.

Grande: "North Dakota has always been pro-life. We have been pro-life before territorial days."

Each biennium, the state has passed legislation to tighten up on its abortion restrictions, and this year is no different.

Michael Brown, Grand Forks Mayor and Doctor: "I think in North Dakota, we celebrate life."

For Brown, a heartbeat at six weeks means a new patient.

Brown: "I'm happy and I see someone who's going to go to kindergarten, go to college and is going to be a productive member of society."

Constitutional Law professor Steven Morrison can't point his finger on exactly why it's North Dakota.

Morrison: "North Dakota's at the vanguard, now why here? I think there's something going on nationally. I don't know what it is."

Nationwide, states like North Carolina, Kansas, Indiana and Virginia all have stiffened up their abortion laws, but not like North Dakota has.

Morrison: "In the past year, two years, we've seen this national state of somewhat extreme pro-life anti-abortion bills."

All this while President Obama supported Planned Parenthood last week at the organization's national conference.

Grande: "I was a little shocked the president would take a stance the way he has."

But even some pro-life advocates are surprised clauses including rape and incest aren't in North Dakota's legislation.

Morrison: "That's what makes these North Dakota laws so extreme and so controversial…they think there's going to be a backlash, they know these laws are going to be struck down in the courts, and they see no benefit, no pro-life advantage to these laws."

For those at the heart of the debate, it's always been about one simple thing...

Grande: "The beating heart is important, and the beating heart is what this is all about."

Whether or not petitioners can get enough signatures for a statewide vote, or if a court issues an injunction these three laws will stand the test of time in the upcoming months.

Mitch: "I feel like it's always going to be an issue that's going to be challenged no matter what the law is."

I've talked to a lot of people about this issue and I think the most interesting part to me at least was really seeing how the state has evolved with its abortion legislation over the past two decades really. These next couple months will be interesting to see exactly what happens.

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