Author: Charlotte Strauss Swanson
On Feb. 17, the North Dakota House of Representatives voted and approved House Bill 1572 in a 51-41 vote. The bill states: “It is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens.” In other words, it states that a fertilized egg has the same legal rights as a human being.
The bill places a direct attack on the pro-choice movement and threatens to overturn the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling. Under the new law the abortion of a fertilized egg, as well as the use of contraception such as birth-control, will be illegal.
According to the Washington Times, Republican sponsor of H.B. 1572 Dan Ruby said, “I think North Dakota will be on the map to be the first state in recent years to mount a legitimate challenge to Roe v. Wade.”
Ruby is a well-known supporter of the growing “personhood” movement, which has continued to spread across the country. According to Personhood USA, there have been pro-life legislative proposals in Mississippi, Oregon, Maryland, and South Carolina. In addition, last November, similar legislature was voted on in Colorado. Colorado Amendment 48 stated that a person was “any human being from the moment of conception.” The amendment failed when the ballots came back with a 73-27 percent vote against.
Although they failed in Colorado, pro-life supporters are still trying to ban abortion in other states and are pushing for H.B. 1572 to pass in the North Dakota Senate.
However participants of the pro-choice movement, have continued to speak out against the personhood movement and bill in North Dakota. “HB 1572 is dangerous, far reaching and allows the government, not women and families, to make critical decisions about health care,” President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota (PPMNS) Sarah Stoesz said in a recent press release. “This bill is [. . .] merely another attempt by a narrow minority fixated on an agenda that most Americans simply don’t support.”
Associate Director of the Religious Action Center Mark Pelavin, and Rabbi Dan Rabishaw also issued a press release opposing the bill. “The passage of this troubling bill reminds us to be ever watchful of the continued battles that must be fought and won before reproductive justice can be fully realized in our nation,” they said.
Pro-choice activist Nicole Colson wrote on socialistworker.org, “We need to remind people that what matters most when it comes to abortion rights is not voting for this or that pro-choice judge or politician, but making a vocal defense of abortion rights and being confident to take on the right wing.”
Oxy Professor Caroline Heldman also commented on the importance of abortion rights. She said, “a fundamental part of the on-going struggle for women’s equity in this country, and the fact that they are constantly threatened, is part of a larger tide of sexism aimed at constraining women by constraining their reproductive choices.”
The bill has been sent to the Senate for a vote and may be decided on in less than two weeks. If passed, it will have to be signed by Governor John Hoeven, who is known to be a supporter of the pro-life movement. If signed, the bill will most likely be challenged in the Supreme Court.
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