North Dakota Senate Committee Gives Do Not Pass to Personhood-Abortion Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

North Dakota Senate Committee Gives Do Not Pass to Personhood-Abortion Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 1
, 2009

Bismarck, ND ( — A North Dakota state Senate committee on Wednesday gave a Do Not Pass consideration to a bill that declares unborn children as persons beginning at the point of fertilization, or conception. The bill could be used to challenge the Supreme’s Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade ruling and ban abortions.

Because the bill defines an unborn baby as a person, an abortion of an unborn child would likely be considered illegal under the law and qualify an unborn child for the state’s homicide statutes.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 to ask that the full chamber vote the bill down and the Senate could debate and vote on the legislation as early as Thursday.

Committee Chairman David Nething of Jamestown said he had been working on changes to the bill, HB 1572, but he did not present any amendments to it before the committee called on the Senate to defeat it.

Senate passage would send the bill to the governor because the state House already approved the measure on a 51-41 vote.

Republican Rep. Dan Ruby, who has also sponsored other pro-life bills this legislative session, is the main sponsor of the personhood bill. He says the measure fits in with what the Supreme Court said in Roe, namely that abortion would be illegal if the personhood of the unborn child could be asserted.

"This is the exact language that’s required by Roe vs. Wade. It stipulated that before a challenge can be made, we have to identify when life begins, and that’s what this does," he said.

Still, he said that the measure doesn’t go as far as directly banning abortions in the same way a previous bill had or the two ballot measures neighboring South Dakota considered.

“This language is not as aggressive as the direct ban legislation that I’ve proposed in the past,” Ruby said during the debate. “This is very simply defining when life begins, and giving that life some protections under our Constitution — the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Democrat Kari Conrad was one of the legislators to speak up against the bill and said it would put North Dakota in court if passed because abortion advocates would challenge its constitutionality.

"People who presented this bill were very clear that they intended to challenge Roe versus Wade. So they intend to put the state of North Dakota into court defending Roe vs. Wade," she said.

The legislation says: "For purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens."

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