BISMARCK, N.D. — A Republican lawmaker in North Dakota, who is also a Lutheran pastor, has filed a bill that would make the performance of an abortion a crime in the state — but with a “life of the mother” exception.
House Bill 1313, introduced by Rep. Jeff Hoverson, R-Minot, would amend sections of the North Dakota Century Code on the murder of an unborn child and apply it to “any person that willingly performs an abortion of an unborn child for any reason other than to save the life of the pregnant woman.”
The commission of the crime would be classified as a Class AA felony, which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison, with the possibility of parole, at the discretion of the court.
“A person that intentionally or knowingly aids, abets, facilitates, solicits, or incites another person to commit an abortion is guilty of a class C felony,” the bill reads. Class C felonies carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a fine of ten thousand dollars, or both.
Hoverson told reporters that while he is a Christian, he did not present the legislation because of his faith but because he believes it is “common sense.”
“I think it’s long past due that we’ve got to start listening to the babies,” he stated, according to the Duluth News Tribune. “Any human that would have compassion would not want to see a baby die that way, but it’s not because some religion taught me. It’s everything from humanity to common sense. I think even an atheist could come to that.”
Hoverson is the pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Minot, and according to his website, “places a very high value on the Word of God for preaching, teaching, and reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of their eternal destiny.”
“He also believes in the Word of God for bringing Jesus into all spheres of life here on earth,” it states. “From homes to workplaces, from schools to governments, from playgrounds to nursing homes, God has given us He good news as a blessing to be given through His Church.”
House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, expressed concern that Hoverson’s bill, if passed, would result in a costly legal battle, but Hoverson said that it doesn’t matter as ending legal abortion is “the right thing to do.” He believes the state should ignore Roe v. Wade.
“We’ve allowed the Supreme Court to hold us hostage,” Hoverson stated. “We’re willing to go against federal law for marijuana, but we won’t do it for a baby.”
House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, likewise is unsettled, stating that he believes a felony conviction is too harsh.
Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, D-Fargo, who sits on the House Human Services Committee, where the bill is currently up for consideration, supports the effort, but has proposed an amendment stating that the law would only take effect once Roe v. Wade is overturned. She also would like funding earmarked to defend the measure in court.
There are currently four co-sponsors to the legislation: Reps. Larry Bellew, R-Minot; Sebastian Ertelt, R-Lisbon; Tom Kading, R-Fargo; and Jeff Magrum,R-Hazleton.
There is one abortion facility in North Dakota, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, which, according to its website, offers abortions up to 16 weeks (4 months gestation).
“We offer both the medication abortion and in-clinic suction abortion procedures,” the site states.
As previously reported, abortion was widely thought to be murder in American history, especially by those who professed to be Christian.
In 1896, Dr. William McCollom lamented that even in his day, mothers would “unblushingly apply to the physician and to the druggist for medicine to abort [their] pregnancy.”
He expressed concern that pastors were seemingly not lifting their voice on the issue of abortion as he saw that the practice was both prevalent among the unsaved and “on the increase among professed Christian women.”
“Let us do our duty, if our spiritual advisors neglect to do this, in denouncing this common crime and great sin,” he wrote in addressing his fellow physicians.
“The field for missionary work is a large one and should be faithfully worked, both by the conscientious physician and the Protestant Christian clergy, who perhaps fully understand the enormity of the sin if they do not know how prevalent it is,” McCollom said.
In 1850, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court became the first high court in the nation to declare that abortion must be prohibited at any stage of gestation for any reason.
While other state courts allowed preborn babies to be aborted up to four months of gestation by reason of a “quickening” theory, which stated that a person was not protected until the mother felt them kicking in the womb, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would accept no such argument.
In Mills v. Commonwealth, the court declared that the theory “is not … the law in Pennsylvania, and ought never to have been the law anywhere.” The ruling became a strong precedent that other state courts began to review and follow.
By the 1900’s, due to the influence of the ruling, nearly every state in the nation prohibited abortion for any reason.
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