The North Dakota House passed two anti-abortion bills by wide margins during its floor session Friday afternoon.
House Bill 1305 was brought up for debate first. HB1305 would make it a Class A misdemeanor for a physician to knowingly perform an abortion based specifically on gender or on genetic abnormalities.
“The killing of unborn babies is still allowed here in North Dakota,” Rep. Vernon Laning, R-Bismarck, said in introducing the bill.
Laning told lawmakers that between 90 and 95 percent of babies in the womb found to have Down syndrome are aborted.
“Who’s to say they should be removed from the womb?” Laning said.
Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, said she was opposed to HB1305 and any other abortion bill.
“This bill ... tell(s) me and other women what to do with our bodies,” Hawken said.
Hawken went on to rebuke lawmakers who were in support of HB1305, drawing a comparison to passionate testimony earlier in the week about a bill relating to child restraint devices. Hawken noted that testimony in opposition to child restraint devices had centered on government intrusion.
“The level of hypocrisy reaches a new high,” Hawken said.
Hawken also called out fellow lawmakers by asking those supporting HB1305 whether or not they’ve supported more funding for prenatal care in past sessions.
“This is a personal thing we are dealing with. Think about whether you are pro-life, which I am, or are you pro-birth?” Hawken said.
Rep. Gail Mooney, D-Cummings, said HB1305 had no business being before the North Dakota Legislature. She said the state likely will be forced to defend the bill in court if it passes. She said the matter should be brought to a federal court by groups against abortion.
“The people of North Dakota should not be expected to foot this bill,” Mooney said.
Rep. Diane Larson, R-Bismarck, said life should be protected at all stages of development. Larson said regardless of whether one is talking about a pre-born baby in the womb or a child standing on his own two feet, “you are killing a child.”
Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, stood and read Section 1 of Article 1 of the North Dakota Constitution. He noted that all people are afforded inalienable rights of life and liberty. Kasper said HB1305 is an effort to speak for a pre-born child who can’t yet speak.
“It’s our responsibility, I think, to consider the rights of that baby,” Kasper said.
After further debate, the House voted to approve HB1305 by a 64-27 vote.
The second abortion bill was House Bill 1456. HB1456 would require physicians to check for a heartbeat before performing an abortion and bar physicians from conducting one if a heartbeat is detected.
Following an introduction of HB1456 by Rep. Dwight Kiefert, R-Valley City, House members passed the bill 63-28.
Friday’s floor debate came one day after four abortion and personhood bills were put before the Senate. Three of the bills, Senate Bill 2303, Senate Bill 2305 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009, passed on Thursday. Senate Bill 2302 failed.
There also was debate on Thursday on some of the bills as to the intent. SCR4009 was openly referred to as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. Other bills, including SB2305, were argued as being a step to improve medical care and not an attempt to restrict access to abortions.
SB2305 had a provision stripped from it in committee that would have required physicians to be licensed in obstetrics and gynecology.