The senator who sponsored North Dakota’s new near-total abortion ban, one of the strictest measures in the country, has a long history of trying to impose her own extreme views on the state.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, North Dakota has banned abortion after six weeks, before most people even know they are pregnant. The state tried to implement its trigger law, a total abortion ban, but the measure was blocked in the courts.
Governor Doug Burgum on Monday signed a bill amending the language in the six-week ban, effective immediately. The law now makes exceptions for rape or incest, but only up to that six-week limit. There are also exceptions for life-threatening conditions such as ectopic pregnancies, when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, making the pregnancy nonviable and dangerous; and for molar pregnancies, another nonviable compilation when a tumor forms in the uterus.
Minors need to get consent from both their parents to get an abortion, with no exception for minors who might be abused by a parent or guardian, or they have to petition a court to get an abortion without parental consent. Doctors are required to lie to patients that medication abortions can be reversed. Any care provider who violates the law can be charged with a felony.
The measure was sponsored by Senator Janne Myrdal, an extremist Republican first elected in 2016. Prior to serving in public office, she led the anti-abortion group ND Choose Life and was a former director for the state chapter of Concerned Women for America, a conservative activist group that has lobbied for anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Myrdal co-sponsored a bill in January 2017 that would have classified all internet-connected devices as a “pornographic vending machine.” Under the measure, it would have been a crime to sell any such device in North Dakota unless the “obscene” material could be censored or internet users paid $20 for uncensored access.
Two years later, Myrdal co-sponsored a bill that would have required doctors to lie to their patients that it was possible to reverse a medication abortion (which made it into Monday’s abortion bill). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says abortion reversal claims are “unproven and unethical,” and attempts to reverse a medication abortion could put a patient’s health at risk.
Myrdal shared an image on her Facebook page of a Pride flag with a swastika on it, and after being met with outrage, apologized and said she never meant to post the image. She tried to defund North Dakota State University for launching a research project on youth sex education, and she backed a bill that would prevent government entities from requiring that employees be addressed by their preferred pronouns. That measure would also require teachers to get permission from parents and the school administration to use a student’s preferred pronouns.
More recently, she also sponsored a bill requiring all schools in North Dakota to show students a propaganda video from the anti-abortion group Live Action.
“Janne’s vision—and the vision of those like her—is to create a state where they make all the rules,” Amy Jacobsen, the executive director of progressive rights group Prairie Action ND, wrote in a 2021 op-ed. “What religions are acceptable. What should be taught in our schools. What sex education curriculum may be used (if any at all). What science to allow, and what science to deny.”
North Dakota’s Janne, like the many who came before her, carries out her bigotry and intolerance in the name of religion. Yet her views are not based on anything “Christian.” Christ taught acceptance, compassion, and to be cautious when judging others. Instead, Janna Myrdal is mean-spirited and only too happy to not only judge but lay out the penalties for those she doesn’t like. She is, in short, a bully.