N.D. House passes anti-abortion measures

BISMARCK (AP) – The North Dakota House has passed a bill that would ban doctors from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, was passed Friday. It would require testing for a heartbeat prior to a planned abortion.

Doctors who perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected would face a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Women who have an abortion after hearing a heartbeat would not be charged.

Medical experts say a so-called fetal tone can be detected as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy.

The House also passed a bill Friday that would prevent women from having abortions based on gender selection or a genetic defect like Down syndrome. The measures are among a package of anti-abortion bills proposed by Republican lawmakers this session.

The state Senate passed several bills Thursday aimed at sending a message that the state is anti-abortion. One of the measures would require a doctor who performs abortions to be an OB-GYN with hospital-admitting privileges – a move that opponents say is designed to close the state’s sole abortion clinic in Fargo.