North Dakota Public Affairs Manager
Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund
This summer opponents of legal abortion were quietly, yet steadily, working to mount an unprecedented attack on women’s health in North Dakota. They were busy attending county fairs, church groups and other community events gathering signatures for a ballot initiative for possible inclusion in the fall 2010 election. The filing deadline with the Secretary of State came and passed. Fortunately, the anti- choice group was unsuccessful in gathering the 12,844 signatures needed. Unfortunately for the women of North Dakota, the group stated they will continue to push forward with another ballot initiative and possible legislation in the future.
What was the measure, you ask? Had the effort been successful the voters of North Dakota would have had a measure on their ballot titled “The baby decapitation and skull crushing ban”. Clearly, and despicably, the sponsors of this measure attempt to manipulate voters by using emotionally-charged language. The intent is to shock you, upset you, and to control you.
This anti-abortion measure would have a devastating impact on women facing serious complications after the first trimester of pregnancy. Many women seeking abortions after the first trimester very much want to carry their pregnancies to term, but they develop medical complications which threaten their own health or the health of the fetus. This initiative would severely restrict safe medical options for women in these difficult situations.
This anti-choice effort is not over; it is really just the beginning. The sponsors of this measure are clear; they will use this time to continue their work, gather more signatures, and get the measure placed on a future ballot. If that is not frightening enough, there is always the opportunity for the group to seek legislation during the 2011 session. Representative Dan Ruby (R-Minot), the sole sponsor of the 2009 “Personhood” bill which attempted to grant full human rights to a fertilized egg, was also a sponsor of this effort. During the Personhood effort Ruby was quoted “I think North Dakota will be on the map to be the first state in recent years to mount a legitimate challenge to Roe v. Wade!” The goal is crystal clear.
Declining to sign the petitions illustrates that North Dakotan saw this effort for what it was- an attempt by opponents of legal abortion to push an unconstitutional agenda and allow the government to intrude into the personal lives of the people of North Dakota.
During this interim time, before the North Dakota Legislature convenes in January 2011, it is imperative for pro choice advocates and friends to come together and organize. The first steps are simple and only take seconds. First, spread the word. Use the tell-a-friend feature on our emails to get your circle of friends involved with advocacy/information from Planned Parenthood MN, ND, SD. Second, follow us on Twitter (@ppnodak) and Facebook (Planned Parenthood North Dakota Action Fund). Social networking is a valuable tool in connecting like minds in a frontier state like ours. And thirdly, please contribute today. Every dollar helps the small program we run in North Dakota- from $5 to $500 every cent is piece goes to supporting the pro choice movement.