Personhood Bill Lays Egg in North Dakota Senate

anti-abortion activists who rallied behind Colorado’s Amendment 48 last
year came up with another big goose egg Friday when the North Dakota Senate rejected a “personhood” bill that sought to confer constitutional rights to zygotes.

But reproductive rights advocates aren’t cheering Roughrider State lawmakers just yet.

Senators voted 29-16, without debate, to kill the anti-abortion bill which passed the North Dakota House Feb. 17.

Opponents counter that contraception, in-vitro fertilization and
stem-cell research would be threatened, and miscarriages could be
prosecuted if legal recognition of fertilized eggs were upheld.

The controversial bill was backed by Personhood USA, which dubs
itself “missionaries to the preborn.” The duo behind the nascent
national movement to push due-process rights for fertilized eggs got
their start carpetbagging in Colorado on the Amendment 48 campaign.

Keith Mason, from Wichita, Kan., and Cal Zastrow of Kawkawlin,
Mich., have turned anti-abortion activism into a personal cottage
industry — providing one more example of how Colorado’s broken ballot system has become an incubator for ideologically-driven political causes.

Though the measure failed miserably by a 3-to-1 margin, the group is taking its lessons learned on the road. Thus far, Personhood USA has been thwarted in Montana and now North Dakota, which has been ground zero for anti-abortion activism.

Meanwhile, the state lawmakers in Bismark approved two anti-abortion
bills — that also attempt to advance the personification of fetuses —
to send to Republican Gov. John Hoeven that are quite likely to be
challenged in court, each for their own stark Fourth Amendment violation against unreasonable search and seizures, notwithstanding the thorny ethical dilemma.

One proposed law requires abortion clinics to offer a fetal
ultrasound to women considering abortion. The second requires health
care providers to tell women seeking an abortion that terminating her
pregnancy would end a human life.

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  • paul-bradford

    I’d like to highlight the role of the Catholic Church in both the North Dakota Personhood Bill and in last year’s Colorado ballot initiative.


    On June 5 of last year the Colorado Catholic Conference issued this statement (which was signed by all three Colorado bishops):


    We admire the goals of this year’s effort to end abortion, and we remain committed to defending all human life from conception to natural death. As we have said from the start, however, we do not believe that this year’s Colorado Personhood Amendment is the best means to pursue an end to abortion in 2008.  Unfortunately, even if this year’s personhood amendment is passed in Colorado, lower federal courts interpreting this amendment will be required to apply the permissive 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is also likely that the Supreme Court, given its current composition, will either decline to review such a case, effectively killing the state amendment, or worse, actively reaffirm the mistaken jurisprudence of Roe.


    While the Church respects those promoting this personhood amendment, the Catholic Bishops of Colorado decline to support its passage because it does not provide a realistic opportunity for ending or even reducing abortions in Colorado.


    On March 12 of this year the North Dakota Catholic Conference (representing both of North Dakota’s bishops) stated that while they appreciate the bill’s intent they couldn’t support its wording because of likely effect the bill would have of penalizing mothers who harm their unborn children indirectly by "drinking, taking drugs or not following a prenatal care program".


    It’s one thing to believe that life begins at conception — which, of course, is what the Church teaches — it’s another thing to think that that belief can effectively be enshrined into law. It makes far more sense for advocates of the unborn to back educational efforts designed at helping mothers do a better job at caring for their very young children than it does to threaten them with criminal action when they do something that indirectly (or directly) harms their unborn child.



    Paul Bradford, Pro-LifeCatholics for Choice


  • invalid-0

    Why is it that in 2009 still people feel it necessary to try to force their views and opinions on people? The anti-abortionists are a group who run on fear more than anything else, not sensible discussion. As they are fighting a losing battle I don’t think they will ever change their tactics.