Doctor: North Dakota bill would spur illegal abortionsSome women will resort to dangerous illegal abortions if lawmakers approve a package of measures aimed at toughening North Dakota’s already strict abortion laws, a retired Fargo pediatrician told lawmakers Tuesday.
By: By James MacPherson, Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Some women will resort to dangerous illegal abortions if lawmakers approve a package of measures aimed at toughening North Dakota’s already strict abortion laws, a retired Fargo pediatrician told lawmakers Tuesday.
Ted Kleiman, who retired just a few weeks ago, said he saw at least one woman die from a botched illegal abortion while working at a New York hospital before a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized abortion.
“The thought of returning to those days is really beyond imagination,” said Kleiman, urging state senators to consider the effects of passing legislation that critics say is aimed at shutting down the state’s sole abortion clinic in Fargo.
The Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed a House bill that would prevent women from having abortions based on gender selection or a genetic defect like Down syndrome. It also considered a House bill that would ban doctors from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
The committee took no action on either measure.
Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, the prime sponsor of both House bills, told senators that the measures are intended to protect the unborn.
“The heartbeat bill is very simple,” Grande said. “Everyone understands what a beating heart means. It means life.”
Grande said abortions done for sex selection usually target female fetuses because families generally prefer baby boys. The bill banning such abortions, along with those for genetic defects, “fulfills a vital societal goal: treating women and persons with disabilities with respect and dignity,” she said.
The Senate committee heard from many people who testified earlier before House members. The Senate sergeant-of-arms was present during much of the sometimes emotional hearing, and a state trooper made rounds outside the meeting room, which was unusual.
House members are expected to consider anti-abortion bills that have already passed the Senate on Wednesday. They include a measure that would require a doctor who performs abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges. Other bills would ban the destruction of human embryos and outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that fetuses that old can feel pain.
The latter bill directly challenges the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, which is usually at 22 to 24 weeks.
Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, has said that the state will face costly, drawn-out litigation if lawmakers ban abortions.
She told senators Tuesday that her clinic has been operating for nearly 15 years and provides “safe abortion care services.”
“Many women, including many mothers in the state from all different backgrounds, have sought services at the clinic at one time in their lives,” Kromenaker said.