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Antiabortion measures in North Dakota spur protests

One bill defines life as beginning at conception

Kris Kitko lead chants of protest at an abortion-rights rally at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on Monday, March 25, 2013.

James MacPherson/AP Photo

Kris Kitko lead chants of protest at an abortion-rights rally at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on Monday, March 25, 2013.

BISMARCK, N.D. — More than 300 abortion-rights activists carried signs and chanted, ‘‘Veto! Veto! Veto!’’ in a demonstration Monday at the state Capitol protesting a package of measures that would give the state the toughest abortion restrictions in the nation.

The newly formed Stand Up For Women North Dakota also planned rallies in Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot, said Robin Nelson, one of the organizers of the demonstration.

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‘‘The intent is to stop the attack on women’s rights in our state,’’ said Nelson, of Fargo.

Russell and Jenn Landphere of Bismarck brought their two infant sons with them to the Capitol.

‘‘The priorities of this state are not in the right place,’’ said Russell Landphere, who took a late lunch from his job as a civil engineer to attend the rally with his family.

‘‘We’re here as a family supporting women’s rights,’’ Jenn Landphere said. ‘‘We feel it’s a woman’s choice or a family’s choice — not the government’s choice.’’

North Dakota lawmakers moved Friday to essentially outlaw abortion in the state by passing a resolution defining life as starting at conception. The North Dakota House approved the bill 57-35 Friday, sending it to voters probably in November 2014. The Senate approved it last month.

Representatives also endorsed two other antiabortion bills Friday. One would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that fetuses feel pain at that point.

Lawmakers also passed another measure that requires a doctor who performs abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges.

The Legislature had already passed measures that would ban abortion as early as six weeks, or as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, and because of genetic defects such as Down syndrome.

Together, those bills would give North Dakota the strictest abortion laws in the nation. Governor Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, has not indicated whether he supports the measures.

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