North Dakota governor signs strict abortion bill into law

(Reuters) – North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum on Monday signed into law a bill that would ban most abortions, creating an exception for rape and incest victims but only during the first six weeks of pregnancy.

The law, which makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion, provides other exceptions including to save the life of the mother or in cases where her health is at serious risk. But rape and incest victims would have to carry their pregnancies to term unless “the probable gestational age of the unborn child is six weeks or less,” Senate Bill 2150 says.

The bill cleared both houses of the North Dakota legislature with veto-proof majorities and is the latest to pass in a Republican-led state since the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the federal right to an abortion, enabling states to impose restrictions.

At least 13 states have enacted abortion bans while North Dakota joins a number of other states to ban abortion after a certain period of gestation, ranging from six to 20 weeks.

Still more states have abortion restrictions that have been temporarily blocked by judges until underlying lawsuits are heard, including North Dakota, where the state Supreme Court blocked a previous abortion restriction. Meanwhile in many Democratic-led states there are abortion protections in place.

“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,” Burgum said in a statement, according to the Rapid City Journal.

The governor’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta)