On Thursday, the North Dakota Senate passed a personhood amendment ballot initiative that hopes to give legal rights to human embryos, stating “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
If the bill passes the state’s House, it will be put on the 2014 ballot for the voters to decide, but, the bill has already received criticism from both sides of the abortion debate.
Already labeled the worst state for women, North Dakota concurrently passed a bill that could shut down its only abortion clinic, very similar to a bill that is going through Mississippi as well. The bill will require abortion doctors to have admitting rights to hospitals, and despite its stated intention to help women receive adequate health care if they experience complications from an abortion, it threatens to end abortion in North Dakota. The bill is expected to hold up in court; however, concerns surrounding the personhood amendment initiative make its ability to hold in court more questionable.
Unsurprisingly, the bill is under fire by pro-choice supporters saying that the measures are too extreme and the bill, which states each person’s right to life, will actually put the lives of women in danger by making no exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
Pro-life supporters have expressed their concerns over the amendment as well. While state Senator Margaret Sitte (R) says that the North Dakota Senate intends that the bill will be “a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, since Scalia said that the Supreme Court is waiting for states to raise a case,” some pro-life groups have expressed concern that this bill will not hold up in court, and with a pro-abortion dominated Supreme Court, this will end up reinforcing Roe v. Wade and will further entrench the legality of abortion. Therefore, people who are pro-abortion fear that this bill could end up doing more harm than good by bringing the fight to criminalize abortion too early to the Supreme Court.
Is this all part of the GOP’s scheme to make 2013 even harder for women than it was in 2012? I believe it isn’t. The GOP has already shown that is it taking steps to put women’s issues higher up on its list of priorities through efforts to compromise on the Violence Against Women Act, and because of the unimpressive number of women voters they received in the 2012 election, they are clearly considering how they can broaden their base to attract more female voters.
The concerns expressed by pro-life groups on how the bill will hold up in court are valid: This bill, when brought to a pro-abortion Supreme Court, could end up being used to reinforce Roe v. Wade, making the battle of pro-life groups even more difficult. This, however, begs the question: Why is North Dakota attempting to push through an amendment that will do neither sides of the debate any good?