A new law in North Dakota will make the state the first in the nation to prohibit abortion as a result of genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome that are detected prenatally.

The bill, signed this week by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, is one of three new pieces of legislation making the state’s rules on abortion the most restrictive in the country.

“A physician may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely… because the unborn child has been diagnosed with either a genetic abnormality or a potential for a genetic abnormality,” the law states.

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“Genetic abnormality” is defined as “any defect, disease or disorder that is inherited genetically.” Specifically, the law cites Down syndrome and “any other type of physical or mental disability” as being included in the category.

In addition to barring abortions due to disabilities, the state will also disallow terminating a pregnancy for the purpose of gender selection and once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. What’s more, a separate bill requires that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Dalrymple, the state’s Republican governor, acknowledged that the new rules, scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, are likely to face challenges in court.

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