March 25, 2013

The North Dakota Catholic Conference applauded the state Senate’s passage March 15 of a bill that would ban abortions for the purpose of sex selection or genetic abnormality and another bill that would ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which could be as early as six weeks.

The bills were already approved by the House and now head to the desk of Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

The conference, which is the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, urged the governor to sign the measures.

If he does, North Dakota would become the first state to prohibit abortion for reasons of genetic abnormality.

“Currently, the U.S. Supreme Court only allows states to protect unborn life after the point of viability, which is when an unborn child can survive outside the womb,” said Christopher Dodson, executive director of the Catholic conference.

“The Supreme Court chose viability because it understood viability to be a significant marker of human development. Close reflection, however, reveals that viability is not a measure of human development,” he continued.

“A heartbeat, however, is a marker that actually reflects the development of the unborn child,” Dodson said.

If the bill becomes law, physicians would be prosecuted for violating it, not the woman who has an abortion.

If convicted, a doctor could face a fine of $5,000 and a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Doctors also could lose their medical licence.