North Dakota Lawmaker: Banning Abortion Will Help Women ‘Realize’ They Don’t Want One After All

Written by Tara Culp-Ressler

Rep. Bette Grande, one of the primary backers of North Dakota’s new unconstitutional abortion ban, is no stranger to anti-choice efforts to coerce women out of their decision to terminate a pregnancy. Four years ago, she spearheaded the state’s forced ultrasound law. Since then, she says young women have told her they decided not to go through with having an abortion after seeing an ultrasound image of the fetus.

Despite the fact that those women are solidly in the minority — several studies have shown that mandatory waiting periods, counseling sessions, and ultrasounds don’t actually change women’s minds about their decision to have an abortion — Grande is now extending that logic to apply to her state’s harsh new abortion restrictions.

Earlier this year, North Dakota enacted the strictest abortion restriction in the nation: a so-called “heartbeat” ban to outlaw all abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can first be detected, which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. The state is already preparing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the law in court. But Grande is confident that, regardless of the outcome of that legal fight, the fetal heartbeat law will ultimately “give people the opportunity to realize that there is a beating heart.” She believes that will effectively convince women that they don’t want to have an abortion after all:

Grande, a Methodist and Republican state representative from Fargo, believes the intense national publicity surrounding the fetal heartbeat abortion ban has brought new awareness and understanding to the issue.

“It does give people the opportunity to realize that there is a beating heart,” even in a fetus as young as six weeks, Grande said. “People are recognizing that.” [...]

But lawsuits can take years to resolve, and the publicity that will be generated during the dispute can itself be valuable to changing public opinion and ultimately stopping abortion, Grande said.

“I appreciate the fact that it will change hearts and minds,” she said.

In fact, abortion bans do not prevent women from choosing to terminate a pregnancy; rather, they simply eliminate women’s safe and legal options. The Guttmacher Institute has found that the legality of abortion services have absolutely no correlation to abortion rates worldwide. When women don’t have the opportunity and the means to safely terminate a pregnancy, they are forced to resort to dangerous, illegal abortions — and those unsafe procedures lead to an estimated 47,000 preventable deaths around the world.

Although Grande is framing North Dakota’s six-week abortion ban as a compassionate law that will help women realize what’s best for them, women can make up their own minds about their health care. Nearly 90 percent of women who seek abortion care are “highly confident” about their decision to terminate a pregnancy before going to a clinic. Instead of helping women make the right choice for them, the heartbeat ban would actually prevent North Dakota women from being able to access their full range of reproductive health options — particularly because many women have not yet realized they are pregnant at just six weeks — which could lead desperate women to turn to desperate measures.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


Photo: matt.hintsa/flickr

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Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

If a woman wants an abortion, she will get one, legal or not. A law like this will send them back to the days of 'back alley doctors, coat hangers, poisons, and ect...

Joan M.
Joan M.2 years ago

Why wpuld the state propose legislation to ensure that I made the "right" medical choice when it comes to child birth or abortion. They do not involve themselves legislatively in any ohter medical choice that I make. They do not weigh in when I ponder aspirin vrs Tylenol.

Neither the State of Federaly government should have any say in the medical choices I make for my body.

John Hablinski
John Hablinski2 years ago

The fact that Cathrynn Brown could write such an obscene law proves the need for women to have unfettered rights of control of their own lives and bodies. I’m fairly certain if her mother knew how mentally unbalanced her daughter would be she would have exercised her right to control her own body. This woman is NUTZ!

John Hablinski
John Hablinski2 years ago

Elaine is simply another religious bigot. No woman should be held hostage to religion especially someone else’s religion. Elaine & her ilk are the group being barbaric because of their effort to ride roughshod over the obvious rights of others. How dare they push their archaic beliefs on others? Christian bigots are no different and certainly no better than Muslim bigots and people like Elaine are far worse than the rest combined.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

Arwen, thank you for sharing your story with us.

pam w.
pam w.2 years ago

Arwen, I hope it helps to know you're certainly not alone in having avoided a tragedy by ending a pregnancy.

I've told this before but will tell it again. I became pregnant WHILE CAREFULLY USING CONTRACEPTIVES. (It happens---read the package inserts.) My husband was ill (dying, really, although we didn't know it then) and my daughter was devastated by the recent death of her grandmother. We were all living on my meager paycheck. There was NO WAY I could bring another child into our family and wasn't about to impose a pregnancy/loss of work through adoption onto us, either.

So, I ended it. Have I felt regret? NEVER. It was absolutely the right thing to do. The fetus never knew it had any more than an egg or an acorn.

All this legislation against women is nothing more than BULLYING by politicians who have nothing more to offer than a frantic appeal to misogynistic, fundamentalist Christians.

It's no different than the old burning/drowning of witches.

Arwen Woods
Arwen Woods2 years ago

To Pam, John, Vanessa and Dale - thank you so very much for your kind words of support. They mean more than you know.x

Dale O.

Arwen, your comment was meaningful and poignant, a reminder of the horror of what many women have faced in their lives. One often can never change the opinion of some people such as Krysti S. There are also some who think that their belief suits every situation.

Rape is a horrific violation and yet there are legislators and others out there who believe that it is still the ‘duty’ of a rape victim to carry the pregnancy and then perhaps give the born child to waiting adoptive parents. Or they try to pass ridiculous and restrictive laws where it is illegal to have an abortion because the fetus is considered 'evidence’ of rape/incest. They fail to see that for many having to live through nine months of pregnancy is pure psychological torture for the rape/incest victim. If the victim chooses to continue with the pregnancy that is up to her but many will not allow themselves to go through the torment of the constant reminder of the violation of the very fibre of their being.

Dale O.

New Mexico is attempting to pass legislation. "House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would legally require victims of rape or incest to carry their pregnancies to term, purportedly so that the fetus could be used as evidence for a sex assault trial. Any rape or incest victim who ended her pregnancy would be charged with a third-degree felony for “tampering with evidence.”

Read more:

Cathrynn Brown is attempting to reword it as not to prosecute rape/incest victims but the language of the bill is insidious as it will still go after doctors and other health care personnel for carrying out an abortion of the rape/incest victim.

Dale O.

Some believe the idea that the life of a future baby overrides the violence perpetrated against a rape/incest victim that has shattered her soul. For a woman not wishing to have this pregnancy after a rape/incest, this is terrorism against her very psyche, holding her hostage to a situation that she did not ask for. Every situation is different and trying to force women into having a pregnancy because of religious/other belief is unfair. Elaine A may consider abortion as going back to 'barbarism' but that is her opinion and not something to be forced upon an unwilling participant. The same goes for women who have not been raped as their bodies are also theirs alone when it comes to whether they wish to have a child.