North Dakota to Vote on Making State First to Define Life as Beginning at Conception

Monday, October 27, 2014
Proposed citizen of North Dakota

Anti-abortionists have tried in several states to up the stakes in the fight to end women’s right to control their bodies by pushing new laws that would define human life as beginning at conception. After several defeats, they might finally succeed next month in North Dakota.


Voters in the state will decide on Amendment 1, the so-called “Inalienable Right to Life Amendment” or “Human Life Amendment.” A recent poll said the amendment has a good chance of passage.


Amendment 1 was put on the ballot by conservatives in the state legislature who want to undo the legal right to abortion, according to ThinkProgress. “The bill’s sponsor was frank about that ultimate goal, and reproductive rights groups were outraged about the passage of such an extreme attack on women’s legally protected right to choose,” Tara Culp-Ressler wrote.


However the wording of the amendment doesn’t mention abortion. Instead, it reads: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” Such vague language could result not only in outlawing abortions, but several popular methods of contraception as well. It could also make in-vitro fertilization illegal and change the way courts look at inheritance rights.


“They’re moving more toward this incremental language, because when they come out and say the goal is to ban abortion, they lose,” Elizabeth Nash, the senior states issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told ThinkProgress.


So-called “personhood” laws, under which fetuses are defined as a person, have been rejected by voters in Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma, Virginia, Florida and even deep-red Mississippi.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

North Dakota ‘Life Begins at Conception’ Amendment, Measure 1 (2014) (Ballotpedia)

North Dakota Is Quietly Preparing To Enact The Most Radical Abortion Measure In The Country (by Tara Culp-Ressler, ThinkProgress)

North Dakota Anti-Abortion Law Ruled Unconstitutional (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

North Dakota Beats Arkansas for Most Extreme Anti-Abortion Bill (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


McBurney 9 years ago
Those of us who draw the line for personhood at fertilization are certain never to kill an innocent person by abortion. Those who draw that line elsewhere will have to explain themselves to God if they are wrong. This is a serious matter. Consider your choice carefully.

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