North Dakota Lawmakers Approve Measure to Place ‘Personhood’ Amendment on State Ballot

Bismarck, North Dakota — Legislators in North Dakota have approved a proposition to place a personhood amendment on the state ballot, making North Dakota the first in United States history to do so with the backing of both the House and Senate.

As previously reported, North Dakota has passed a string of pro-life measures in recent weeks, and last month, the state Senate approved an initiative to place the personhood of the unborn on the 2014 ballot. Senate Bill 4009 declares that “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

The amendment has been backed by all of the major pro-life organizations in the state, including North Dakota Family Alliance, North Dakota Right to Life and Personhood North Dakota.

Today, the state House of Representatives approved the measure 57-35.

“The North Dakota legislature has taken historic strides to protect every human being in the state, paving the way for human rights nationwide,” stated Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA, following the news of the approval of the amendment. “This amendment strikes the balance of accomplishing more for the unborn than any other amendment the nation has ever seen, while protecting pregnant women and their right to true medical care. We applaud the North Dakota House and Senate for their willingness to protect all of the people in their state.”

“The North Dakota personhood amendment takes the pro-life plank of the GOP platform and puts it into practice,” added Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D., legal analyst for Personhood USA. “Furthermore, it allows the legislature the needed flexibility to implement the specific protections of the right to life through future legislation.”

Personhood USA is the organization behind the proposed amendment, which it has sought to pass in states such as Mississippi, Colorado and Oklahoma. The ballot initiative failed in Colorado in 2008 and 2010, and was likewise voted down by more than half of voters in Mississippi in 2011.

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“The state’s largest Christian denomination, the Mississippi Baptist Convention, backed the proposal through its lobbying arm. The bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and the General Conference of the United Methodist Church opposed it,” reported CBS News.

The measure approved today in North Dakota is expected to go up for a vote by the people during the 2014 election season. If it passes, the state will add the amendment to the North Dakota Constitution, which would ban all abortions with no exceptions.

The personhood amendment is already facing fierce opposition, as Republican Representative Kathy Hawken states that she and other Republican legislators are planning a protest on Monday during an upcoming women’s health rally.

“I have so many friends with grandchildren from in vitro fertilization, and to take that away from these people who desperately want children is not okay,” she said, noting that the amendment might prohibit the procedure. “I believe if men had babies we would not be having this discussion.”

Earlier this week, however, legislators in Kansas also passed a bill asserting that life begins at fertilization, and that unborn children have an inalienable right to life.

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