by James MacPherson/Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota lawmakers moved Friday to outlaw abortion in the state by passing a resolution defining life as starting at conception.
The measure, which has to be approved by voters, is one of a series of anti-abortion resolutions the Republican-controlled Legislature has passed this year despite critics’ insistence that they are unconstitutional and violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion until a fetus is considered viable, which is usually at 22 to 24 weeks.
The North Dakota House approved the measure 57-35 Friday, sending it to voters, likely in November 2014. The Senate approved it last month.
The so-called personhood measure bestows human rights on fertilized human eggs. Efforts to pass similar measures in other states have failed, but anti-abortion legislation has had strong momentum in North Dakota this year with lawmakers introducing a slew of measures aimed at closing the state’s sole abortion clinic in Fargo and challenging Roe v. Wade.
A second personhood bill debated Friday would have automatically defined in state law that life begins at conception. That bill was narrowly defeated after a heated discussion as lawmakers from both parties worried the wording would jeopardize couples’ efforts to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization.
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