(Cross-posted at First Thoughts)
My beloved North Dakota has been in the middle of a national firestorm concerning abortion politics and policy for some weeks, as our legislature has passed three particularly strong pro-life laws with bipartisan backing. (Others are in process, including one which ban tax monies from funding abortion providers, and another has been passed which will give ND voters the opportunity to put pro-life language in our State constitution.) Our Governor, a Republican, in a state dominated by Republicans of widely varying political temperaments, did not sign the bills right away, causing some concern in the pro-life community. Some thought he might veto them, setting off a war in the ND GOP, while others thought he might follow a moderate course split the difference.
He signed all three today. From the Governor’s office:
BISMARCK, ND – Gov. Jack Dalrymple today signed HB 1305, HB 1456 and SB 2305 and provided the following statements to the Legislature:
North Dakota House and Senate presiding officers:
I have signed HB 1305 which would ban abortions performed solely for the purpose of gender selection and genetic abnormalities.
I have signed HB 1456 which would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed state restrictions on the performing of abortions and because the Supreme Court has never considered this precise restriction in HB 1456, the constitutionality of this measure is an open question. The Legislative Assembly before it adjourns should appropriate dollars for a litigation fund available to the Attorney General.
I have signed SB 2305 which requires admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital for any physician who performs abortions in North Dakota. The added requirement that the hospital privileges must include allowing abortions to take place in their facility greatly increases the chances that this measure will face a court challenge. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate and new question for the courts regarding a precise restriction on doctors who perform abortions.
Bishop David D. Kagan, Bishop of the Diocese of Bismarck and currently administrator of the vacant Fargo diocese, issued the following statement:
The protection of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death is the primary purpose of government. All persons, including our elected officials, are obligated to unceasingly seek protection of this basic human right. I applaud the members of the North Dakota legislature who bravely supported measures to extend protections to unborn human life and to advance the health of women.
I also applaud Governor Jack Dalrymple for signing SB 2305, HB 1305, and HB 1456. His signature affirms our state’s commitment to the protection of all human life.
Finally, I ask that all Catholics of the state join me this Holy Week in praying for our all of our elected leaders. May the Author of Life grant them wisdom in all their endeavors.
More, beyond what I put up at First Things’ First Thoughts:
One thing particularly interesting and gratifying to me has been to see Rob Port’s support of this legislation; Rob is ND’s leading libertarian blogger, and an atheist. Social issues are matters of reason, not pure revelation. Social conservatism need not be religious.
I’m also really happy for Sen. Margaret Sitte, who’s worked very, very hard on this legislation, and taken a lot of arrows.