North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple [official website] on Tuesday signed SB 2368 [text, PDF], a measure banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation based on the controversial premise that a fetus can feel pain at that point. The North Dakota House of Representatives [official website] passed [JURIST report] the bill last Friday, and it was approved by the North Dakota Senate in February. Pro-choice advocates say the law is unconstitutional [AP report] and will result in a legal fight. Dalrymple has already signed several restrictive measures into law [JURIST report], such as: banning abortions once a heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks; banning abortions based on gender selection or genetic abnormalities; and requiring that any physician performing an abortion have admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital.
A number of other states have passed laws related to reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] recently. In March the Arkansas legislature voted to override [JURIST report] Governor Mike Beebe's recent veto of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act [Act 301, PDF], which bans abortions "of an unborn human individual whose heartbeat has been detected ... and is twelve (12) weeks or greater gestation." Days earlier, Arkansas lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto [JURIST reports] of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [HB 1037, PDF] which bans most abortions in the state 20 weeks after conception. That law made Arkansas the eighth US state to ban or restrict abortions after 20 weeks. Similar laws restricting reproductive rights are currently facing legal challenges in Arizona and Georgia [JURIST reports].