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NEW YORK — Planned Parenthood Action Fund today said that the extreme ban on abortion signed into law in North Dakota is a wake-up call for the country, in the midst of an unprecedented rash of bills that would severely restrict women’s access to abortion.  Bills have been introduced in 42 states that would ban or severely limit access to abortion — and, going much further, would make it harder for women to get birth control, cut women off from cancer screenings, and prohibit sex education programs that help prevent teen pregnancy.  

“North Dakota’s governor today effectively banned abortion in the state, with an outrageous and unconstitutional law that will not stand,” said Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “This is just one of hundreds of bills across the country that would severely limit women’s access to safe and legal abortion. The unprecedented attacks on women’s rights and health across the country are a wake-up call. It is simply not acceptable that women’s basic rights will depend on their zip code, with women in some states being treated as free agents and full citizens while other women lose the right to make their own health care decisions.” 

States across the country that are already hostile to women’s health are advancing new and far more dangerous restrictions on women’s health this year, despite polls showing that a majority of Americans (70 percent) oppose efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade. For example, a new South Dakota law signed on March 8 excludes weekends and holidays from the state’s onerous 72 hour waiting period for abortions.  Even before the law passed, South Dakota was home to among the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions, including a requirement that physicians tell a patient misinformation about mental health risks of abortion, and a requirement that a woman must visit an unlicensed, so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Center” to discuss the most personal aspects of the pregnancy decision she has already made.  The “crisis pregnancy center” provision of the state law is currently blocked as Planned Parenthood’s challenge proceeds in a federal court.

“As a health care provider serving women in the heart of the Midwest, we see every day the impact that cruel and dangerous state legislation has when a woman has made the personal, and sometimes difficult, decision to end a pregnancy. Planned Parenthood was proud to play a role in amplifying the voices of hundreds of North Dakotans who opposed these bills,” said Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.     “North Dakotans have an opportunity to stand up to these attacks on women’s health as they face a ‘Personhood’ measure on the ballot in 2014. It’s time to tell politicians in North Dakota – ‘enough is enough.’”

On Monday, North Dakota Republican State Representative Kathy Hawken led a bipartisan group of legislators, physicians and North Dakota women and families in a protest of the extreme package of abortion bills. While North Dakota and Arkansas have passed some of the most extreme restrictions on women’s health in the nation, Americans of all political stripes are saying “enough is enough.”  Last week, hundreds rallied in North Carolina to protest recently-introduced abortion restrictions and on Saturday, an estimated 500 people rallied in Little Rock to protest abortion restrictions recently passed, despite Governor Mike Beebe’s veto.  

State Representative Kathy Hawken (R-Fargo) said, “Like many of my Republican colleagues, I personally am pro-life. But we have gone over the line.  North Dakota hasn't even passed a primary seatbelt law, but so far this year we have taken up six different bills to end safe and legal abortion in our state. I call on my colleagues in North Dakota and in statehouses around the country to re-attune their focus.  We need to make sure every American woman has access to the preventive health care she needs, including birth control, so she can avoid an unintended pregnancy and stay healthy. This is a policy priority that unites, rather than divides, Americans. And this is the policy priority that aligns with my Grand Old Party.”