Constitutional Measure No.1 (Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 4009, 2013 Session Laws, Ch. 519) would create and enact a new section to Article I of the North Dakota Constitution stating, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any state of development must be recognized and protected.” The language used in this Measure is purposefully vague and misleading – but don’t be fooled. Measure 1 could become the first personhood amendment in the United States.
That’s why I’m taking action to defeat it.
Meet Kate, our first #NorthDakota hire to help us #GOHV and defeat Measure 1!
Why should we, as North Dakota voters, say no to a personhood amendment? It’s simple. In voting no, we say yes to the continued accessibility of contraceptives, preventative care for women, and to the accessibility of safe abortions. We say yes to the continuation of the option of abortion in cases of rape, incest, and endangerment to the life of a pregnant woman. We say yes to women’s rights.
Hidden beneath the vague language of Measure 1 are far-reaching implications for the reproductive health of North Dakota women. Women and their partners simply must be allowed access to choices that enable responsible reproductive health – including contraception and emergency contraception, IVF treatments, and safe abortion. But the state’s only abortion provider, the Red River Valley Women’s Clinic, would be shuttered if Measure 1 were to pass. IVF could become illegal. Certain forms of contraception mistakenly labeled abortificants by politicians, not doctors, could disappear from pharmacies across the state.
This isn’t to say that North Dakota already enables women to control their reproductive health without restrictions: our laws require state-directed counseling for all women seeking an abortion, as well as a 24 hour waiting period after that counseling before the procedure, and dictate that abortion costs only be covered under one’s health insurance in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the pregnant woman. Measure 1, which is in defiance of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, would make North Dakota one of the most restrictive states in the nation when it comes to women’s health. Measure 1 goes too far.
In the year 2011, the most recent for which statistics are available, 1,250 abortions were performed in the state of North Dakota, a rate of 9.5 for every 1,000 pregnancies in the state in that year. This rate is significantly lower than the 16.9 per 1,000 reported in the United States as a whole. In that same year, it was reported that 89 percent of U.S. residents live in a county devoid of an abortion provider. In North Dakota, this population jumps to 98 percent, meaning just 2 percent of women in North Dakota have easy access to the services provided by the Red River Valley Women’s Clinic in Fargo.
Abortion is often medically necessary – especially in cases of ectopic pregnancy, chromosomal abnormalities detected in amniocentesis, autoimmune disease, and numerous other conditions. Women may also choose abortion due to financial instability, emotional instability, or other instances that hinder her ability to carry a pregnancy to term or to raise a child. And no matter what her reasoning, abortion should always be the decision of the woman having one – not politicians or someone else’s moral order. Giving constitutional rights to a nonviable fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus – which Measure 1 would do – is dangerous to women. Measure 1 would not only eliminate a woman’s right to choose abortion; it would destroy her control over her own reproductive health.
I know that voting no on Measure 1 is the reasonable choice for my state. North Dakota – are you with me?