North Dakota on Monday adopted one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country as Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signed legislation banning the procedure at six weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest.

“This bill clarifies and refines existing state law … and reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state,” Burgum said in a statement.

The law is designed to take effect immediately, but last month the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled a state abortion ban will remain blocked while a lawsuit over its constitutionality proceeds. Last week, lawmakers said they planned to pass the latest bill to send a message to the state’s high court signaling that the people of North Dakota want to restrict abortion.

Supporters have said the measure signed Monday protects all human life, while opponents contend it will have dire consequences for women and girls.

Republican Sen. Janne Myrdal, of Edinburg, had sponsored the bill.

“North Dakota has always been pro-life and believed in valuing the moms and children both,” Myrdal said in an interview with The Associated Press after Burgum signed the bill. “We’re pretty happy and grateful that the governor stands with that value.”

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Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Trisha Ahmed on Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15

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