The Abortion Amendment America Forgot -NORTH DAKOTA
Passed by the North Dakota House and Senate in April 2013, Resolution 4009, as it was then known, was hailed by abortion opponents as groundbreaking by being the first legislatively passed “personhood amendment,” which would grant legal rights and protection at the moment an egg is fertilized. “After four years of hard work pro-life personhood legislation has passed both houses of the North Dakota legislature!” read Personhood North Dakota’s now-defunct main page. “This means that North Dakota is only a popular vote away from being the first state in American history to ban abortion!” And in February 2013, state Sen. Margaret Sitte, the sponsor of the resolution, told Laura Bassett of The Huffington Post, “We are intending that it be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, since [Justice Antonin] Scalia said that the Supreme Court is waiting for states to raise a case.”
So would voting for Measure 1 be a vote for personhood? Could it ban all abortion and potentially some forms of hormonal contraception, make medical procedures like IVF impossible, and even interfere with individual end-of-life decisions? It depends who you ask.
Unlike “personhood amendments” introduced elsewhere in the country, North Dakota’s measure does not specifically mention conception. And despite the fanfare when the resolution passed, the word “personhood” has entirely disappeared from any current discussion by Measure 1 backers. According to ND Choose Life, a coalition formed by social conservative and religious freedom groups, anti-abortion advocacy groups, and the North Dakota Catholic Conference, the amendment simply protects current abortion restrictions from being challenged and potentially overturned, and might protect new legislation the state may introduce. They say it will not ban abortion and does nothing on its own to directly limit abortion any more than the Supreme Court allows at the federal level.