On Tuesday, Gov. Jack Dairymple signed legislation that would give North Dakota the most restrictive abortion laws in the country
. The legislation bans the procedure as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, something that can happen as early as six weeks in; imposes the first state ban on abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome; and makes it generally more difficult for a doctor to perform the procedure by requiring those who do to have hospital-admitting privileges.
The measures, which wouldn't go into effect until Aug. 1, are likely to face a serious legal challenge in court, and many expect the heartbeat ban to be overturned, something even Dairymple hinted at when signing it into law. "Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade," the governor said this week, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion up until a fetus is considered viable, usually at around 22 to 24 weeks.
As unlikely as the law is to survive, ABC News
does a good job of illustrating the indirect—but perhaps not unintended
—impact of the ban if it holds up: The likely closure of Fargo's Red River Women's Clinic, which according to the Guttmacher Institute
has existed as the lone abortion provider in the state since 2001.