North Dakota Recognizes Personhood of Pre-Born, Passes ‘Life at Conception’ Legislation

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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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