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"Human dismemberment" abortion bill passes House

The North Dakota House of Representatives has passed a bill prohibiting "human dismemberment abortions."

Representative Greg Westlind presented the bill. Westlind says the official term of the procedure is dilation and evacuation. It is typically performed between the 14th and 27th week of pregnancy. North Dakota does not allow abortions past 20 weeks gestation. Westlind says the procedure is particularly gruesome, in that it removes a fetus from a womb "one piece at a time." The procedure is not currently legal in North Dakota and is a class C misdemeanor. Westlind says the bill is preventative in its intent.

"Section 1 of this act becomes effective on the date of the legislative management approves by motion the recommendation of the attorney general to legislative management that is it reasonably probable this act will be held up as constitutional."

Representative Westlind then described the procedure to the House chamber.

Representative Mary Schneider was hesitant to support the bill. She says during testimony on the bill from the House Human Services Committee, no testimony from any medical representatives was offered.

"It was meant to sound gruesome, and of course it does. But it left me wondering who would undergo this sort of thing, and why - and we don't know. We weren't told as part of the testimony on the bill. It must be something quite critical. Maybe a mother's right to live to care for her other children? We just don't know. We had philisophical testimony, we had legal testimony, we had policy testimony, we had religious testimony. We had a lovely child testify. We just didn't have any medical testimony about what desperate circumstances or critical medical conditions might require this process."

The bill was passed 78 to 13.