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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published March 22 2013

Three more abortion-limiting bills pass; two pending Dalrymple's signature, one to 2014 statewide ballot

BISMARCK - House lawmakers on Friday defeated one of four measures seeking stricter abortion regulations.

The defeated bill would have defined a human being “as an individual member of the species homo sapiens at every stage of development.”

Senate Bill 2303 failed on a 49-43 vote.

The bill also would have prohibited the willful destruction of healthy human embryos.

Two other bills did prevail and will be sent to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature.

Another abortion-related proposal, Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009, passed and will be on the 2014 general election ballot.

Under the resolution, North Dakota voters will decide whether the state constitution should be amended to protect a human at every stage of life, which some say can mean at conception.

The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, passed the House by a 57-35 vote.

If passed by the voters, the constitution will include the language, “The inalienable right to life at every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

Opponents of the resolution believe it will define when life begins, arguing that it would codify one religion’s view toward life. They say it would also make end of life decisions more difficult, questioning whether living wills could be upheld.

The Senate passed the measure 26-21 in February.

Senate Bill 2368, which defines life as starting at conception and would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, passed through the House by a 60-32 vote. It was sponsored by Sen. Joe Miller, R-Park River.

The bill also would increase reporting requirements for abortions and prohibit a public higher education institution from contracting with an entity that performs or counsels in favor of abortions.

It does exempt an abortion in the case of a medical emergency.

The Senate passed the bill in mid-February by a 30-17 partisan vote.

Senate Bill 2305, which would require a physician performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility, passed 58-34 in the House.

The bill was sent to the House by a party-line 30-17 vote in the Senate. It is sponsored by Sen. Spencer Berry, R-Fargo,

Rep. Vernon Laning, R-Bismarck, carried the bill to the floor and said the bill will help protect women during complications.

“I certainly think a woman undergoing a procedure would want as many safety precautions as possible,” he said. “It ensures the physician is well-qualified to address the problem.”

Rep. Kylie Oversen, D-Grand Forks, said the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, the state’s only abortion clinic, has had to transport only one patient from the clinic to the hospital in the past 10 years.

“We’re dealing with an unnecessary bill,” she told the House floor.

Oversen said hospitals would require a physician to admit 10 patients per year to maintain admitting privileges.