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Extreme bill creates the possibility of life in prison without parole for anyone who performs an abortion, and five years in prison for anyone who assists someone getting an abortion

Fargo, ND — Today marks 48 years since the Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, established the legal right to an abortion. The landmark decision protected a person’s right to access safe, legal abortion for the first time, and it gave individuals the freedom to control their bodies and their futures. Yet the right to safe, legal abortion is continually under attack, especially in North Dakota. 

Last week, North Dakota lawmakers introduced one of the most extreme anti-abortion bills in the country. The legislation would criminalize abortion care, possibly resulting in life in prison without parole for doctors who provide abortion care. The measure leaves the door open for people who discuss abortion care, drive a friend or family member to an abortion appointment, or provide counseling to someone seeking an abortion to also face five years in prison.

“Today we celebrate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the right to safe, legal abortion in the U.S.,” said Katie Christensen, North Dakota State Director of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund. “Thanks to this landmark decision, abortion is recognized as essential health care in this country.  At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the constant attacks on our reproductive freedom. Lawmakers are trying to criminalize health care and criminalize anyone who helps a North Dakotan make the best decision about having an abortion. This bill is extreme, unconstitutional and dangerous to our health.” 

North Dakota lawmakers have publicly stated that they hope to pass the bill and have it challenged in court, so that they can demand the courts revisit previous precedent. With Justice Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2020, solidifying a 6-3 majority hostile to reproductive rights, abortion access is at even greater risk. Right now, there are 18 cases only one step away from the Supreme Court—meaning Roe could be overturned or gutted, eliminating what little access is left. 

Since 2011, more than 480 abortion restrictions have been enacted in states, making abortion inaccessible for people with low incomes and Black and Brown people, already forced to navigate a legacy of racist and discriminatory systems. 

“At a time when the Legislature should be focused on protecting public health, they are pushing this extreme and blatantly unconstitutional bill that would criminalize abortion in North Dakota at any stage of pregnancy, with only a very narrow exception,” said Christensen. “North Dakotans seek out abortion care every year. No one should go to prison for that.”


Founded in 1992, the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization. As the advocacy and electoral arm of PPMNS, we mobilize supporters of all parties to defend and increase access to family planning services and fact based, medically accurate sexuality education. We work to inspire and engage citizens to take up the cause of reproductive health and rights through education, electoral activity, grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy.

Visit us at plannedparenthoodaction.org/planned-parenthood-north-dakota-advocate