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North Dakota’s governor has signed into law a series of pro-life bills that he expects will be challenged, but he says the issues need to be decided.
Today Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed the first three of the legislature’s pro-life bills – less than 24 hours after they reached his desk – stunning pro-abortion supporters who have been engaging in a relentless campaign against the bills.
WND had reported on a “freight train” of pro-life bills that were overwhelming the abilities of pro-abortion supporters to fight. The New York Times even acknowledged the flood, saying pro-abortion advocates have been “on the defensive this year because of the sheer number of bills introduced and their sweeping scope.”
Among the new laws is one that bans abortions because the parent does not approve of the child’s gender or if the child has gender abnormalities. Supporters of the law have said permitting such abortions amounts to a form of genocide by permitting a child to be aborted solely because of his or her gender.
But wait, said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. That’s a woman’s right, she said.
“This law is merely a cynical attempt to choke off access to the reproductive health care services they need to exercise that right and give politicians license to question and intrude upon women’s personal and private decisions,” Northrup said.
The other bills signed into law prohibit abortions after the child’s heartbeat is detected and requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, in case of emergencies.
In a statement on his signing of the bills, Dalrymple says while he acknowledges abortion supporters will challenge them in court, he nevertheless felt the laws needed to be passed in order to test the boundaries of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that created the right to abortion on demand.
Court precedent has determined that states retain the right to limit abortions.
“Although the likelihood of this measure [the fetal heartbeat bill] surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade,” Dalrymple said. “Because the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed state restrictions on the performing of abortions and because the Supreme Court has never considered this precise restriction in HB 1456, the constitutionality of this measure is an open question.”
He also said the admitting privilege law posited a legitimate legal question.
“It is a legitimate and new question for the courts regarding a precise restriction on doctors who perform abortions,” the governor said.
The pro-abortion CFRR said it opposes requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges with area hospitals in case of an emergency.
Said the group in a statement, “The Center for Reproductive Rights has committed to challenging HB 1456 on behalf the Red River Women’s Clinic, the state’s only abortion clinic, before the law is scheduled to take effect on August 1, 2013.”
Added Northrup, “We are prepared to take whatever steps necessary to keep the Red River Women’s Clinic’s doors open to the nearly 1,500 women from North Dakota and surrounding area who seek reproductive health care services there each year.”
Another bill awaiting the governor’s signature would grant legal protections to the unborn. A similar measure will go to the voters in the fall asking them to 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.”
Passage of the remaining bills would 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.”
WND reported as the measures were being developed, Gualberto Garcia Jones, an attorney for Personhood USA, said, “What is happening in North Dakota is significant for the pro-life movement. The pro-abortion crowd is about to be [run] over by a pro-life train and they are afraid they will be unable to stop it.”
WND previously reported the “personhood” movement was attempting a different strategy in North Dakota this year by first pushing pro-life legislation through the Senate, which has been more resistant to pro-life legislation than the House.
So the Senate approved several personhood plans, and last week, the North Dakota House got into action, passing several pro-life bills.
Jones said while personhood amendments have been on the ballots in other states, there is a strong possibility North Dakota will be the first to pass one of the measures.
“In the past, pro-life groups have been divided about personhood, with some concerned it could backfire and solidify support for abortion. Because of this, some pro-life voters refused to vote for personhood amendments,” he said.
“However, the North Dakota personhood amendment has the support of all of the state’s pro-life groups including North Dakota Right for Life, the North Dakota Catholic conference, the North Dakota Life League, the North Dakota Family alliance, and of course Personhood North Dakota,” he said. “This is significant because unfortunately different pro-life organizations are almost never unified, but now they are.”
Personhood plans declare that an unborn baby is a person from the moment of conception, relying on a statement by Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade.
Personhood proposals also have been presented in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Virginia, Colorado and Montana. Personhood supporters say they are undeterred by their initial defeats and liken their struggle to British lawmaker William 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, Colo. resident active with the personhood movement said.
“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.”