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North Dakota

Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

A woman may not receive abortion care until at least 24 hours after the attending physician, referring physician, or physician's agent tells her:  (1) the medical risks associated with the proposed abortion procedure including, when medically accurate, infection, hemorrhage, danger to subsequent pregnancies, and infertility; (2) the medical risks associated with continuing the pregnancy to term; (3) the probable gestational age of the "unborn child"; (4) the name of the physician who will provide the procedure; and (5) the abortion will end "the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

In addition, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, the physician or physician's agent must inform her:  (1) that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care ; (2) that the "father" is liable for child support, even if he offered to pay for the abortion; (3) that she has a right to review state-prepared materials that describe the "unborn child" and list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion; and (4) that the woman is free to withhold or withdraw her consent to the abortion at any time without affecting her right to future care or treatment and without the loss of any state or federally funded benefits to which she might otherwise be entitled.  The physician or physician's agent must inform the woman about the materials.

The state-prepared materials must be available on the state department of health's website and must describe with pictures, in booklet format, the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the "unborn child" at two-week gestational increments, including the possibility of survival. The color photographs must depict the development of the "unborn child." The descriptions must include information about brain and heart function, the presence of external members and internal organs during the applicable states of development, and any relevant information on the possibility of the "unborn child's" survival.  The state-prepared materials also must provide a comprehensive, geographically indexed list of public and private agencies and services, including adoption agencies, available to assist the woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent or include a 24-hour toll-free hotline that may be called to obtain such a list.  

Information on the support obligations of the father, including his legal duty to support his child, also must be made available.  This information may include discussion of child-support payments and health insurance, and the fact that paternity may be established by the father's signature and that child-support services and enforcement may be obtained by calling state or county public assistance agencies.

Also included must be objective information describing the various surgical and medication-induced methods of abortion as well as the immediate and long-term medical risks commonly associated with each abortion method, including risks of infection, hemorrhage, cervical or uterine perforation or rupture, danger to subsequent pregnancies, the possible increased risk of breast cancer, the possible adverse psychological effects associated with abortion, and the medical risks carrying a child to term.

N.D. Cent. Code §§14-02.1-03(1) (Enacted 1975; Last Amended 1999), 14-02.1-02 (Enacted 1975; Last Amended 2011), 14-02.1-02.1 (Enacted 1991; Last Amended 2011).

A court has interpreted this law to permit information to be delivered by telephone so that no more than one visit is required.  Fargo Women's Health Org. v. Schafer, 18 F.3d 526 (8th Cir. 1994).

The state-prepared materials include enlarged color photographs of fetuses. Fetal Growth And Development (1995) (reproduced by N.D. Dep't of Health).


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