The North Dakota state Senate approved an amendment last Thursday that would protect unborn babies from the moment of conception. The proposed “personhood” amendment (SCR 4009) declares that “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” The Senate also passed another bill (SB 2303) meant to ensure that “the protection that our criminal laws afford to victims of crimes extends to all human beings born and unborn.”
The amendment's sponsor, Republican State Senator Margaret Sitte, said she intended the measure to serve as “a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, since [Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia said that the Supreme Court is waiting for states to raise a case. By passage of this amendment, the people of North Dakota are asking government to recognize what science already defined.”
In 2009 and 2011 the personhood proposal was passed by the state House of Representatives but died each time in the Senate. This time, predicted Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA, a group that lobbies for personhood bills around the nation, the bill has a good chance of making it all the way to the the 2014 state ballot, where she believes voters would overwhelmingly approve it. “We just need the North Dakota House of Representatives to stay strong and vote as they did before,” she said, “and we’ll see this pass for the first time in the United States.”
Similar personhood amendments have fallen short on ballots in other states over the past couple of years. If North Dakota succeeds in implementing the amendment, it could provide motivation for renewed attempts in other states. “North Dakota is leading the way for equal rights and protections for all human beings,” said Mason. “After the struggles to pass life-affirming amendments in the Senate in the past four years, we are very pleased that the North Dakota Senate has chosen to protect all living human beings. This is a historic day in North Dakota.”
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Photo: North Dakota state capitol building