In a major victory for the pro-life movement, a vote by the North Dakota Senate to provide protection for the unborn appears to place the state on track to be the first to pass a personhood amendment to the state constitution.
North Dakota has long favored pro-life legislation and the state only has one abortion clinic – in Fargo.
In 2009 and 2011, resolutions calling for placing a personhood amendment on the ballot passed the state House, but were defeated in the Senate. This year pro-lifers adopted a different tactic by first attempting to pass it in the Senate, which was considered to be the more difficult of the two chambers in which to win passage.
The effort has paid off, with the Senate voting to approve SCR 4009, which would change Section 1 of the state constitution to read, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and defended.”
If the House approves the resolution, as it has done previously, the issue would go before the voters in 2014. State Sen. Margaret Sitte, a Republican and sponsor of the bill, says she expects voters to pass the bill handily.
On the same day, the Senate passed legislation requiring abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at an area hospital in the event of complications arising from an abortion. WND has reported on several instances where abortion clinics have had to call for emergency services following medical complications from an abortion.
Critics have lamented that the bill could force the state’s sole abortion business to close.
Passage of the Senate bill could be a game changer for the personhood movement, which strives to pass legislation declaring the definition of a person as beginning at the moment of conception. The personhood movement is based on a statement by Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade.
“If this suggestion of personhood is established,” Blackmun wrote, “[The abortion] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the amendment,” Blackmun wrote.
“North Dakota is leading the way for equal rights and protections for all human beings,” Jennifer Mason , a spokesperson for Personhood USA 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.”
Planned Parenthood and other abortion activists vigorously fight personhood whenever it is introduced. In Mississippi, abortion advocates overcame a 31-point gap in just a few days to defeat a personhood amendment with the support of Planned Parenthood affiliates around the country.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund in New York contributed $209,000, while Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York donated $524,000 to defeat the personhood amendment.
Planned Parenthood affiliates in Georgia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, California, Illinois, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, Florida, Utah, Pennsylvania and Texas all contributed to defeating the initiative.
Planned Parenthood receives over $1 billion a year from abortion and abortion-related services. The organization also receives over $350 million annually from taxpayers.
The amendment was also defeated with the help of “gay” rights activists.
The day after the vote in Mississippi, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund issued an announcement admitting it sent activists to Jackson, Miss., to help “stand in solidarity” with Planned Parenthood and other abortion opponents by manning a phone bank.
In the face of such staunch opposition, personhood has suffered a series of setbacks in other states where similar pressure was brought to bear on lawmakers.
In 2011, a bill requiring the state to protect all life “from the moment of conception” was passed by Republicans on an Iowa House subcommittee. However, it never came to a full vote on the House floor.
In 2012 the Oklahoma Supreme Court refused to let citizens have the right to even vote on a personhood amendment when it issued an order prohibiting the gathering of signatures to place an amendment on the ballot.
Last year, the Virginia Senate backed off from approving a personhood bill claiming more time was needed to study the issue.
In Montana, personhood supporters were unable to gather enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot.
In Colorado, voters have twice voted against a personhood amendment, however, the ballot initiative comes closer to passing each time it has come before voters. Last year, an attempt to place it on the ballot a third time was prevented after a sampling of signatures indicated the amendment likely did not have enough signatures to appear on the ballot.
Personhood supporters say they are undeterred by these defeats and liken their struggle to Wilberforce’s fight against slavery.
“We know this is not going to be an easy battle, and the pro-abortion supporters will fight tooth and nail to preserve their right to kill the unborn,” Dennis Hoshiko, a Greeley resident active with the personhood movement says. “When Wilberforce fought against slavery, it was a slow process and at first the public was against him. Over time, his arguments won the day. It is the same thing with personhood. We are slowly but surely winning the argument.”
Abortion laws are archaic, based on 40-year-old science and technology, Mason noted.
“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.”