The overturning of Roe V. Wade launches ‘a new pro-life movement,’ North Dakota activists say

A bundle of nine pregnancy-related bills — collectively coined “Responding with Love” by the North Dakota Catholic Conference — have passed their respective chambers in the state Legislature.

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Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, presents a bill amendment on the state Senate floor on Feb. 18, 2021, that would ban North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota from partnering with groups that provide abortions.
Screenshot via North Dakota Legislature

BISMARCK — A bundle of pregnancy-related bills — collectively coined “Responding with Love” by the North Dakota Catholic Conference — are making their way through the state Legislature.

Enabled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade, legislators and others who fought long for that result say the work isn’t done.

“Nationwide, people understood that when the Dobbs decision was coming, it was going to launch a new pro-life movement,” Christopher Dobson, executive director for the state Catholic conference, said in an interview. Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization is the case that led to the high court overturning Roe.

Among the bills included in the “Responding with Love” package are HB 1177 and SB 2185.

HB 1177 provides for a sales tax exemption for child diapers and passed the House with a vote of 88-6.


SB 2185 provides for the development of a pregnancy and parenting website funded by the state treasury. The website would offer parenting, adoption, and financial services for pregnant individuals. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 46-1.

All nine of the “Responding with Love” bills have passed their respective chambers and have moved to the next chamber.

Dobson said the post-Roe anti-abortion movement is “not focused on banning abortion but is more focused on the entire package of things that affect a woman’s decision.”

Dobson said the Dobbs decision created renewed interest and motivation in the anti-abortion movement. Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, echoed Dobson’s sentiments in an interview.

A leader of the Legislature’s anti-abortion caucus and sponsor of numerous pregnancy-related bills this session, Myrdal said the movement was often criticized as being solely “pro-birth” and not concerned with larger issues involving pregnancy. “The ‘pro-birth’ narrative is something they came up with five, six years ago,” Myrdal said. “It’s not true.”

Myrdal said her passion in life is working with women in crisis and that she has worked with them for 35 years across seven crisis pregnancy centers in North Dakota.

Crisis pregnancy centers are unregulated medical clinics that seek to deter patients from obtaining abortion care.

“We believe in ‘love them both,’” Myrdal said. “The village needs to come together to make abortion unthinkable, (and) we need to reach out to those children, women and and families in crisis.”


Myrdal sponsored SB 2150, a bill that aims to more clearly state North Dakota’s previously enacted abortion laws, including the 2007 trigger ban and the 2011 fetal heartbeat law.

The trigger ban prohibits all abortions across North Dakota, making it a class C felony for someone to receive the procedure. The fetal heartbeat law bans abortion procedures once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks.

Both the trigger ban and the fetal heartbeat law were unenforceable while federal law protected a woman’s right to have an abortion.

“Roe was lifted, now those two laws should become effective,” Myrdal said. “I wrote 2150 as a consolidation of those laws.”

While the pregnancy-related bills have passed one chamber or the other almost unanimously, opposition to strict abortion laws continues.

Kayla Schmidt, interim executive director for the North Dakota Women’s Network, testified against SB 2150 when it came before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“While SB 2150 does allow care providers with exceptions instead of the burden of affirmative defenses, the bill does not account for the many complications that may arise during a pregnancy,” Schmidt told the committee.

SB 2150 passed the Senate with a vote of 43-4.


To track any of these bills as they make their way through committee and floor action, visit .

Isabelle Ballalatak is a reporting intern with the North Dakota Newspaper Association.

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