Last Friday, North Dakota became the first state in the U.S. to pass a personhood amendment by a vote of 57-35 in the state’s House of Representatives. It now will go before the people of the state for a vote in November 2014.
The measure was supported by a coalition of groups, including North Dakota Family Alliance, North Dakota Right to Life, Concerned Women for North Dakota, North Dakota Life League, the North Dakota Catholic Conference, and Personhood North Dakota.
State senator Margaret Sitte, the amendment’s sponsor, makes no bones about its intent, saying, “We are intending that it be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade…”
Other pro-lifers, however, have expressed misgivings about North Dakota’s personhood amendment, including Dr. Gerard Nadal.
Advocates of legal abortion, for their part, don’t seem to believe the measure will pass at the ballot box or withstand a legal challenge. They appear more concerned with another pro-life bill passed by the North Dakota legislature last week.
Actually, three other pro-life bills were passed by the state’s legislature last week and just signed into law today by Governor Jack Dalrymple:
- HB 1305, which prohibits abortions performed solely for the purpose of gender selection and genetic abnormalities;
- HB 1456, which prohibits abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat; and
- SB 2305, which requires any doctor who performs abortions in North Dakota to obtain admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital.
It’s SB 2305 in particular that has “pro-choicers” worried.
North Dakota has only one (1) abortion clinic in the entire state: the Red River Women’s Clinic (RRWC), located in Fargo. Its director, Tammi Kromenaker, is quoted today in an RH Reality Check story as saying, “The other bills aren’t really a threat right now, but this one could close us.”
RH Reality Check’s Robin Marty concludes by saying:
“Stop the mandate on hospital admitting privileges!” doesn’t make for evocative fundraising emails or headlines. However, SB 2305 is the true threat to ending abortions in North Dakota. Without a provider, there is no more abortion care in the state. If RRWC can’t continue to operate, it doesn’t matter if abortion is banned at 20 weeks, at six weeks, or at the moment of conception. If SB 2305 goes into effect, it will mean the end of abortion access in North Dakota. [emphasis added]
Let’s hope so!
Bishop David Kagan of the Diocese of Bismarck—currently the state’s sole Catholic bishop, as he is also serving as administrator of the vacant Fargo Diocese—issued a statement following today’s signing in which he said:
The protection of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death is the primary purpose of government. All persons, including our elected officials, are obligated to unceasingly seek protection of this basic human right. I applaud the members of the North Dakota legislature who bravely supported measures to extend protections to unborn human life and to advance the health of women.
I also applaud Governor Jack Dalrymple for signing SB 2305, HB 1305, and HB 1456. His signature affirms our state’s commitment to the protection of all human life.
Finally, I ask that all Catholics of the state join me this Holy Week in praying for our all of our elected leaders. May the Author of Life grant them wisdom in all their endeavors.