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Passed overwhelmingly by North Dakota legislature, Gov. Burgum signs bill to clear up language in its “trigger” bill and Heartbeat Bill

by | Apr 25, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum
(CC BY-SA 4.0)

On Monday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed Senate Bill 2150, a bill which sped through the House 76-14 and the Senate 42-5.

“North Dakota has always been pro-life and believed in valuing the moms and children both,” said Sen. Janne Myrdal in an interview. “We’re pretty happy and grateful that the governor stands with that value.”

Previously, Sen. Myrdal said her bill was to clear up language in the state’s 2007 “trigger ban” and 2013 “heartbeat bill” in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Governor concurred. “This bill clarifies and refines existing state law which was triggered into effect by the (U.S. Supreme Court) Dobbs decision and reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state,” Gov. Burgum said in a statement.

In 2007, North Dakota lawmakers passed a bill protecting unborn children from abortion in the state within 30 days if the Supreme Court were to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

“The court’s Dobbs decision triggered North Dakota’s ban, which prohibits virtually all abortions but is temporarily blocked in state district court amid a lawsuit from what was the state’s sole abortion provider,” according to Jack Dura, writing for The Bismarck Tribune.

The heartbeat bill protects the unborn when the fetal heartbeat can be detected— usually as early as six weeks — “except when a medical emergency exists that prevents compliance” with the law.

The Red River Women’s Clinic [RRWC], which moved from Fargo to neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, last year, sued attorney General Wrigley in July to prevent the protective law from taking effect. The lawsuit asserts that the state’s constitution grants the right to abortion.

Last October Judge Bruce Romanick rejected a request from Attorney General Wrigley to let the 2007 law take effect while the lawsuit went forward.

Wrigley said that Judge Romanick made a mistake when he said there’s not a “clear and obvious” answer on whether the state Constitution prohibits abortion and that therefore the case should go forward, according to the Associated Press’s Dave Kolpack. “In order to determine that the outcome favors the clinic Romanick would have to first find that a constitutional right to abortion existed, Wrigley said.

Last month, the state’s highest court found just such a right. Writing for himself and three other justices, Chief Justice Jon Jensen held that “While the regulation of abortion is within the authority of the legislature under the North Dakota Constitution, RRWC has demonstrated likely success on the merits that there is a fundamental right to an abortion in the limited instances of life-saving and health-preserving circumstances, and the statute is not narrowly tailored to satisfy strict scrutiny.”

Categories: State Legislation
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