North Dakota House To Vote On Personhood Bill Banning All Abortion, Even After Rape


North Dakota Republicans have declared an all out war on women this legislative session. Not content with a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks which now goes to the Governor’s desk, state Republicans now seek to send a measure to the Governor that would ban abortion entirely in the most extreme way possible.

In February, the North Dakota Senate passed SB 2303, a personhood bill that would declare that life begins at conception, thus banning abortions entirely in the state and would spell the certain closure of the last remaining abortion clinic serving the area. The measure is even more insidious because it cruelly denies abortion to women who become pregnant through rape or incest. It would also ban some forms of contraception and could end in vitro fertilization. And the House now appears ready to vote on the measure this week despite strong opposition from health care professionals and the fact that such a ban is blatantly unconstitutional.

The Bismarck Tribune reports:

“Dr. Stephanie Dahl, a Fargo infertility specialist, said Monday that the personhood measures could ban in vitro fertilization and force doctors to leave the state rather than face health care restrictions or possible criminal penalties.” Dahl also asserted that the bill would force rape and incest victims to be pregnant, stating “A woman who has been sexually assaulted will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, regardless of the nature of her assault.”

Fargo pediatrician Dr. Ted Kleiman, also spoke out against the measure, saying it “would set North Dakota back to “the stone age” of medicine,” and that it is “abhorrent in the highest degree.” In addition, the Tribune says the “North Dakota Medical Association is against the bill and a group of 26 students from the University of North Dakota medical school signed a letter to the state Senate against it.”

In the 40 years since Roe v. Wade made abortion a constitutionally protected right, conservatives have made attempt after attempt to strip women of their reproductive freedom. Time and time again, federal courts and the high court have consistently ruled against those attempts, thus upholding Roe v. Wade and creating legal precedent favoring the right to choose. Even anti-abortion groups have used Roe v. Wade to defend the choice of a woman to keep her pregnancy. Clearly, the right to choose is important to both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups alike. The only difference is that pro-choice groups support women who make either choice, while anti-abortion groups want to limit women to one choice… which really is no choice at all.

Governor Jack Dalrymple has three days to decide whether or not to veto the six-week abortion ban and a second bill that would prevent parents from aborting a fetus that will suffer from a debilitating disease or genetic defect. But even if he vetoes both bills, Republicans will have the numbers to override his vetoes and make the bills law anyway, similar to how Arkansas Republicans enacted a 12-week abortion ban in that state. If North Dakota’s 6-week ban passes, it would dethrone the Arkansas law as the toughest in the nation. Both measures are clearly unconstitutional, however, and a federal judge in Idaho has already struck down a 20-week abortion ban. Personhood measures are equally unconstitutional because the 14th Amendment has already set the threshold for legal rights at birth. At any rate, a showdown between anti-abortion religious fanatics and the Constitution is on the horizon as the North Dakota House is now poised to send the personhood measure to the Governor as well. I’ll bet on the Constitution.