North Dakota Voters to Decide Whether Life Begins at Conception

Mar 23, 2013 8:01pm

North Dakota voters will be asked in 2014 to decide whether life begins at the moment of conception, after state legislators passed two abortion bills that pro-choice supporters said could “regulate abortion out of existence.”

As the bills head to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his approval, protests are being planned around the oil-rich state for Monday.

The North Dakota Coalition for Privacy in Health Care has planned “Stand Up for Women”  rallies in Bismarck, Fargo and Minot to protest the package of bills that received final approval from legislators on Friday.

One of the measures that passed was a so-called personhood resolution that says a fertilized egg has the same right to life as a person. With the approval by the House, the decision on whether to add the wording to the state’s constitution will be put before North Dakota voters in November 2014.

Along with the personhood resolution that will be put to a public vote next year, legislators agreed to ban abortion at 20 weeks except in the case of a medical emergency and will require all doctors who perform abortions to have admitting rights to a local hospital.

“This deals with the health and safety of women having abortions,” state Rep. Vernon Laning, R-Bismarck said, according to the Bismarck Tribune. 

In a state with only one abortion clinic — the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo — the mandate would effectively “regulate abortion out of existence,” according to the clinic’s website.

“Admitting privileges are not easily come by under any circumstances, but more importantly, such a requirement gives hospitals the power to decide whether abortion is even available in the state,” the clinic said in a statement.

Dalrymple, a Republican, has not indicated his stance on the bills, but it is possible that even if he vetoed them, there could be enough support in the legislature to override his decision.

The Arkansas Legislature passed a law banning almost all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy earlier this month, over the veto of a Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who called it “unconstitutional.”

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