North Dakota lawmakers define life as starting at conception

March 22, 2013 12:05:22 PM PDT
The North Dakota Legislature has passed a bill that would essentially ban abortion by defining human life as beginning at conception.

The bill is one of a series North Dakota lawmakers have passed this year, chipping away at abortion rights. The state's Republican governor has not yet indicated whether he will sign it.

Abortion-rights advocates say the so-called "personhood" measure and others passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature are unconstitutional and clearly violate the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that legalized abortion until a fetus is viable, which is usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Other bills awaiting the governor's signature would ban abortions sought because of genetic defects such as Down syndrome and when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.