Plain Talk: What will North Dakota’s Legislature do on abortion?


MINOT, N.D. — In 2007, a bipartisan majority of North Dakota lawmakers passed a near-total ban on abortions that was introduced by two Democratic legislators. It was written so that it would only take effect should the courts overturn Roe v. Wade and other legal precedents that created a right to an abortion.

Those precedents have been overturned, and while there’s still legal wrangling around the law in North Dakota courts — our state Supreme court held oral arguments about an injunction currently blocking it this week — it’s clear that the Legislature, in its upcoming session, will have some clean-up to do on the abortion issue.

State Sen. Janne Myrdal, a Republican who has worked as an activist in the pro-life movement for more than 30 years, joined this episode of Plain Talk to talk about what that debate might look like.

Myrdal told co-host Chad Oban and I that while she intends to “stand behind” North Dakota’s existing laws, she does see the need for some tweaks, such as the “affirmative defense” exceptions in the law which would allow medical professionals to defend themselves against felony charges should they perform an abortion in the instance of something like rape or incest. Myrdal said she’s not interested in hauling doctors into court.

She also said she’s not interested in, nor has she heard of any bills coming forward, that would put restrictions on things like storing embryos, but she did say she believes Republicans can’t just focus on banning abortion.

Myrdal said she plans to support laws to make the adoption process easier, and to provide better care for mothers and children around a pregnancy.

The new legislative session begins in January.

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