The North Dakota legislature finalized passage of a personhood amendment that backers claim will lead to banning abortions in North Dakota. However, leading pro-life groups are concerned the measure would only entrench legalized abortion further.
The North Dakota House approved the bill 57-35 after the Senate already okayed it. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, has not said if he will sign the bill into law.
The legislature approved SCR 4009, which states “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” The chamber also approved SB 2303 which “ensures that the protection that our criminal laws afford to victims of crimes extends to all human beings born and unborn.”
“We are intending that it be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, since Scalia said that the Supreme Court is waiting for states to raise a case,” state Sen. Margaret Sitte (R), the sponsor of the personhood initiative, said after Senate passage.
Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance applauded the vote in comments to LifeNews.
“We applaud North Dakota for defending life. The bills in North Dakota protect the lives of the most innocent Americans, those without a voice, in the womb. Hopefully, these bills will start a national discussion about what life is and our duty as a civil society to protect it. It starts in the states,” she said.
The state has also approved other pro-life bills that are expected to do more to stop abortions in the state.
The North Dakota bills already passed include a ban on abortion based on gender and genetic abnormality (HB1305) and ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected (HB1456). The bills still under consideration seek to define a human being (SB 2303), demand that abortion doctors have admitting privileges to hospitals (SB 2305), ban abortions when babies can detect pain (SB 2368).
“As people see the truth of abortion, the dirty money and messaging behind it, and the compassion and redemption the pro-life movement offers, I truly believe we will see waves of similar pro-life legislation in other states. According to the latest Gallup poll, Americans now tilt pro-life by nine percentage points. 2012 was a big year for the pro-life movement, and 2013 is shaping up to follow suit. In 2012, 42 pro-life measures were enacted in 25 states and an average of seven abortion clinics closed every month,” Nance said.
Jennifer Mason, spokesperson for Personhood USA, says SCR 4009 is the first personhood amendment to ever pass the state legislature. The state House signed off on similar personhood amendments previously passed in 2009 and 2011 but faced hurdles later in the legislative process.
“North Dakota is leading the way for equal rights and protections for all human beings,” she said. “After the struggles to pass life-affirming amendments in the Senate in the past four years, we are very pleased that the North Dakota Senate has chosen to protect all living human beings. This is a historic day in North Dakota.”
“Abortion laws are archaic, based on 40-year-old science and technology,” added Mason. “Our understanding of pregnancy and human development since Roe v Wade has changed dramatically. There is no question now that the unborn child is a human being and a person, who has a right to legal recognition and protection.”
Mason said SCR 4009 and SB 2303 were both written as to ensure that mother and baby are both treated as medical patients, that medical care is not inhibited, and that fertility treatments are not banned.
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The personhood amendment probably would not ban abortions and would perhaps give a pro-abortion dominated Supreme Court or lower courts a chance to reaffirm the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions in 1973.
Some pro-life groups oppose the amendment because they say it will head to the Supreme Court, which will strike it down and add to the pro-Roe v. Wade case law upholding unlimited abortions. Knowing that, they say a better strategy is supporting pro-life Senate candidates and replacing pro-abortion President Barack Obama — paving the way for new Supreme Court justices who could overturn Roe or uphold such an amendment.