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3 abortion bills to be sent to governor’s desk today

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Three of the four bills passed by the North Dakota Legislature to limit abortions are expected to be sent to Gov. Jack Dalrymple today, legislative leaders said this morning.

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One bill still requires action by the Legislature before being sent to Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said the Legislature held onto the measures, two passed Friday and two on March 15, so they can all can be sent to Dalrymple at one time.

“The idea was to have this done sometime this week,” he said.

Once they are on his desk, Dalrymple will have three days to sign or veto the bills. If he does neither, the bill becomes law.

If a bill is vetoed, it is sent back to the house it originated in for reconsideration with a written statement by the governor that includes his objections to the bill.

A vetoed bill can become law with an override vote by the Legislature, which requires a two-thirds vote by both the House and Senate.

Some action is still required by the Legislature before one bill can be sent to the governor. An amended version of Senate Bill 2368 passed the House on Friday and will be sent back to the Senate, which will have to concur with the amendments, or send it to a conference committee to hash out the changes.

Wardner said the Senate will not agree to the House amendments and it will be sent to a conference committee consisting of three members from each chamber.

The abortion related bills are:

- House Bill 1305 would prohibit an abortion based on child’s gender or a genetic abnormality.

- House Bill 1456 would prohibit an abortion after the fetus has a detected heartbeat. Depending on the technology used, a heartbeat to can sometimes be detected five or six weeks after conception.

- Senate Bill 2305 says an abortion may not be performed by any person other than a physician who who is licensed to practice in North Dakota. All physicians performing abortion procedures must have admitting privileges at a hospital located within 30 miles of the abortion facility and staff privileges to replace hospital on-staff physicians at that hospital.

- Senate Bill 2368 defines life as starting at conception. Except in an emergency where the health of the mother is in jeopardy, a person may not perform or induce an abortion if the unborn child is older than 20 weeks.

The Legislature also passed a resolution that will let North Dakota voters decide on a change to the state constitution. The change would prohibit abortions by adding, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

The sponsors of Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009 have said the resolution could help persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its Roe v. Wade decision.

The amendment will be on the statewide ballot in 2014. The governor’s signature is not required.

By TJ Jerke

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