The North Dakota state Senate approved an initiative on a 26 to 21 vote Thursday that, if passed by North Dakota Voters in 2014, would amend the state constitution to state that life begins at conception. The initiative, SB 2303, states it "ensures that the protection that our criminal laws afford[ed] to victims of crimes extends to all human beings born and unborn." If the Personhood Constitutional Amendment initiative also passes in the state House, it will appear on the ballot in the midterm 2014 elections.
The initiative's sponsor, Margaret Sitte (R-Bismarck), told Reuters, "This amendment is intended to present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade." CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota Sarah Stoesz, said in a statement, "Planned Parenthood will continue to fight these legislative attacks on women's health in partnership with a broad coalition of doctors, patients, teachers, lawyers and other concerned North Dakotans who do not want to see politicians inserting themselves into the private medical decision-making of women and families in our state."
Yesterday, the state Senate also passed Senate Bill 2305, which would require physicians at Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, the only clinic in the state that provides abortion services, to also have admitting privileges at a local hospital. A similar law in Mississippi is threatening to close the state's only abortion clinic because both primary physicians at the clinic are board certified, but have been denied privileges by every local hospital.
So-called "personhood" laws are often thinly veiled attempts to ultimately eliminate abortion rights. "Personhood" laws also could potentially threaten women's ability to access birth control and emergency contraception, IUDs, in-vitro fertilization and even emergency health care that might put a fertilized egg in danger.
Media Resources: The Sacramento Bee 02/07/2013; Reuters 02/07/2013; Huffington Post 02/08/2013; Bismarck Tribune 02/08/2013; Feminist Daily Newswire 11/29/2012