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In this April 16 photo North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple speaks in Bismarck, N.D. Dalrymple signed legislation Tuesday that would make North Dakota the nation's most restrictive state on abortion rights, banning the procedure if a fetal heartbeat can be detected -- something that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. (AP Photo/Dale Wetzel, File)

ND governor signs 'fetal pain' measure

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law a measure that outlaws abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that at that point a fetus can feel pain.

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The law signed Tuesday is the latest among a raft of measures passed in North Dakota this session that are meant to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Abortion-rights advocates have called the laws blatantly unconstitutional and have promised a long legal fight that they say the state can't win.

Dalrymple last month signed a law that bans abortion as early as six weeks, or when a fetal heartbeat is detected, making North Dakota the most restrictive state in the nation in which to get the procedure.

Dalrymple also signed into law last month other measures that make the state the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome and require a doctor who performs abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges.

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