Reproductive rights advocates’ hopes were dashed as the North Dakota Senate passed a bill, by a tight vote of 24 to 23, that will grant legal rights to fertilized eggs. The bill will next be heard by the predominately anti-choice state House before heading to the Republican Governor. It would put into effect an immediate ban on abortion, many forms of birth control, and infertility treatment as soon as it is signed into law, as opposed to a separate measure which would allow voters to decide for themselves whether a so-called “personhood” law should be created in the state.
According to Parents Against Personhood, a website tracking personhood legislation attempts throughout the country, a similar bill passed the House with a 68 to 25 majority in 2011, making this year’s vote a near sure thing for anti-choice advocates. It’s a scenario that greatly worries some North Dakota physicians opposing the bill due to lack of exceptions, especially in the case where a pregnancy is doomed or could threaten the life of the person who is carrying it.
“SB 2303 will restrict a doctor’s ability to treat doomed pregnancies, putting women’s lives at risk, said Siri Fiebiger, a physician from Fargo who practices obstetrics and gynecology, in a written statement released by The North Dakota Coalition for Privacy in Health Care. “Ectopic pregnancies are and miscarriages can be life-threatening if not treated in a timely fashion. Complications during pregnancy should be managed by physicians according to the patient’s needs and values, without involvement by politicians. Health care providers will be confused by this law and they will fear litigation. It is impossible to legislate for every medical scenario.”
There is a strong possibility that a “personhood” ballot amendment in 2014 would have failed. Now, with a legislature bent on putting it into action, it will become law even against the desires of the voters on whom it will be imposed.