The North Dakota House of Representatives [official website] voted on Friday to pass SB 2368 [text, PDF], a measure outlawing abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the controversial premise that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks of gestation. The bill was approved by the North Dakota Senate by a margin of 30-17 in February, and Governor Jack Dalrymple [official website] has indicated that he intends to sign [AP report] the so-called "fetal pain" bill. Dalrymple has already signed into law several measures restricting abortions [JURIST report], including: banning abortions as soon as a heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy; banning abortions for the purpose of gender selection or genetic abnormalities; and requiring that any physician performing an abortion have admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital.
A number of other states have passed restrictive abortion bills recently. In March the Arkansas legislature voted to override [JURIST report] Governor Mike Beebe's recent veto of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act [Act 301, PDF], which bans abortions "of an unborn human individual whose heartbeat has been detected ... and is twelve (12) weeks or greater gestation." Days earlier, Arkansas lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto [JURIST reports] of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [HB 1037, PDF] which bans most abortions in the state 20 weeks after conception. That law made Arkansas the eighth US state to ban or restrict abortions after 20 weeks. Similar laws restricting reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] are currently facing legal challenges in Arizona and Georgia [JURIST reports].