What does it mean to be a North Dakotan? What sorts of images arise when you think of North Dakota? You likely envisioned the plains and prairies of our state. Maybe you thought of the strong and steadfast people who made this land home enduring seeming insurmountable challenges of geography and climate. And of course there is the sense of safety and security offered in every corner of our great state. As North Dakotans we pride ourselves on our integrity, our honesty, and our family values.
Yet, there are groups in North Dakota advocating and using techniques which break from that mold. Their veil to cover manipulation, deceit, and malice is so thin it is nearly transparent. The real shock comes when their identity is revealed. Who would dare shatter North Dakotans trust and make a mockery of truthfulness? The North Dakota Life League (NDLL) and Personhood USA- North Dakota have gone down a path of faithlessness.
The Fargo Forum reported the alarming tactics perpetuated by the NDLL in their campaign to support North Dakota House Bill 1450 ‘Personhood’. The group flooded the mailboxes of Senate Judiciary Committee members with postcards using names without permission, names of people who are deceased, and using hundreds of false addresses. In his response NDLL lobbyist Daniel Woodard said “I removed by hand many of the names, but I did not remove all of the postcards that I was supposed to because honestly I was lazy with it”. It is great that Mr. Woodard was honest about his laziness but that is about where his honesty ends. Call it what you will Mr. Woodard but a lie, is a lie, is a lie.
Sadly, the anti North Dakotan approach is not a solitary action. Personhood USA, whose North Dakota Chapter is lead by Representative Dan Ruby, decided to sidestep the path of deceit opting instead veering down the path of corrosion.
First, it is important to understand the mission of Personhood North Dakota. The goal of their movement is to define the term ‘human being’ as from the moment a sperm and egg join meaning from fertilization. They intend to do so by inserting this language into North Dakota’s Criminal Code. The consequences of passing the proposed legislation HB 1450 are vast and sweeping. In fact, doctors are standing up against this bill because it could ban In Vitro Fertilization care, it could affect treatments of ectopic or molar pregnancies as well as miscarriages, and it could impact access to some forms of birth control. The bill is a complete ban on abortion and contains absolutely no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Frighteningly, if passed in its current form, the law would set a precedent for the criminalization of doctors.
The Personhood North Dakota PAC decided to use coercion and threats in their attempt at securing votes in favor of HB 1450. The group e-mailed every member of the legislature to announce the development of their new North Dakota Personhood Political Action Committee which is a perfectly acceptable step. The group crossed the line however with comments like…
“If the candidate has voted against the personhood measures, North Dakota Personhood PAC will find viable political recruits who will be willing to take a principled, pro-personhood stand for preborn children. We will then help these pro-personhood candidates run a successful campaign and replace the incumbent.”
And that they will…
“conduct extensive persuasive messaging and communication in the lead up to elections to motivate our base to turn out to vote and support pro-personhood candidates.”
These threats are geared to garnish more votes for their dangerous and possible deadly bill. It would make more sense for these so call “pro-life” groups to work prevent the need for abortion and to support North Dakotas children who need health care and education. In a 2010 poll 78% conducted by Lake Research Partners North Dakotans agreed “Lawmakers should focus on preventing the need for abortion”. This is where North Dakota values lay. North Dakotans will see this effort for what it is – 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. One can only hope that that such tactic’s do not go unnoticed or without reprimand. Contact your state Senator and demand a NO Vote on HB 1450.