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N.D. lawmakers define life as starting at conception

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota lawmakers moved Friday to outlaw abortion in the state by passing a resolution defining life as starting at conception.

The measure, which has to be approved by voters, is one of a series of antiabortion resolutions the Republican-controlled Legislature has passed this year despite critics’ insistence that they are unconstitutional and violate the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion until a fetus is considered viable.

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The House approved the measure 57 to 35 Friday, sending it to voters, probably in November 2014. The Senate approved it last month.

The so-called personhood measure would bestow human rights on fertilized human eggs. Efforts to pass similar measures in other states have failed, but antiabortion legislation has had strong momentum in North Dakota this year with lawmakers introducing a number of measures aimed at closing the state’s sole abortion clinic in Fargo and challenging Roe v. Wade.

A second bill debated Friday would have defined in state law that life begins at conception. That bill was narrowly defeated over worries the wording would jeopardize couples’ efforts to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization.

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