Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unfortunate news from the Peace Garden State

For months now, I've been tracking the progress of North Dakota's personhood bill, HB 1450, the Defense of Human Life Act. Things were looking pretty good; it passed the House with a larger margin than 2009's bill, and it was written to deal with issues that had been brought up, from life-of-the-mother treatment to IVF to birth control.

Then the bill was passed to the Senate, and nothing happened for a while. Then, earlier this month, there was an update. The Senate had voted "do pass." I looked into the documents and read through the Senate's amendments, and noticed that among them was one that said the homicide code would not apply to "[t]he termination of a pregnancy that resulted from gross sexual imposition, sexual
imposition, sexual abuse of a ward, or incest, as those offenses are defined in
chapter 12.1-20.".

Now, this was bad news for more than just the obvious reasons of loss of life. You see, the personhood section was still universal; the restriction only said the homicide code didn't apply. Essentially, children conceived in rape were people under the law, but they could still be killed. This would appear to violate the equal protection and right-to-life sections of the North Dakotan constitution.

I'm not familiar with the North Dakotan procedure, or how their Century Code (which HB 1450 amends) works, but if it doesn't have a severability clause, HB 1450 could be struck down entirely if the rape exception is found unconstitutional.

However, this may all be moot. The next day, I looked again and found another update. There was some legaleze that I couldn't make out (nor could our resident legal expert Ms. Hazzard), but I could make out that Senator Sitte got the rape amendments separated from the rest such that they could be voted on separately. Later, I checked my email and saw the following explanation from PersonhoodUSA:

Help Revive Pro-life Bill

Dear Pro-life Friends,
We were thrilled when HB 1450 The Defense of Human Life Act passed the North Dakota House of Representatives 68-25. We’re deeply upset by what happened next.
Senators Olafson and Nething ruined a great pro-life bill.
Just as in 2009, Senator Olafson, while calling himself “pro-life”, led the pro-abortion charge. In good faith and with great patience, Senator Margaret Sitte and all the pro-life groups worked with Olafson to find language on which we could agree. But Senator Olafson managed to get rape and incest exceptions added to the bill before he tabled the bill on the Senate floor, disallowing a vote.
Sen. Olafson and certain other Republican leaders betrayed us and the babies whose lives depend upon us.
We thank the many Democratic legislators who stood for life and supported this legislation.
Even though this bill was tabled, it is still possible to revive it before the end of the session. We need your help to give life to HB 1450 so as to give life to unborn children.
Even if you’re from out of state, please contact these senators. Tell them to remove the rape and incest exceptions and put HB 1450 up for a vote.
HB 1450 (with exceptions removed) would ban all abortion in North Dakota.
Email all 47 senators (copy and paste into one email):
Tell the senators to take HB 1450 off the table, remove the exceptions, and hold a clean vote for all human life!
Demand a vote on HB 1450 today!
End abortion in North Dakota now.
The legislative telephone number is (888) 635-3447. Give a message for the Senate Majority leader that you want a vote on HB 1450. Most importantly, email all the senators!
Email, make copies, put on Facebook—go viral!
Click here to see each action taken on HB 1450:

While Personhood USA is an unapologetically Christian group, this is nonetheless a laudable goal. We were this close to legal recognition of the rights of the unborn, and a possible challenge to Roe v. Wade. Let's let the North Dakota senate know that this country takes the right to live seriously, and that we won't quit until every child is protected by love and by law.

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