North Dakota Senate passes “personhood” bill granting legal rights to fertilized eggs

The measure now moves to the House, where abortion rights advocates fear it will pass

Topics: fetal personhood, Abortion, abortion rights, abortion care, Women's Rights, North Dakota, Anti-abortion movement, ,

North Dakota Senate passes "personhood" bill granting legal rights to fertilized eggs (Credit: AP)

What is going on in North Dakota?

The state successfully passed yet another restrictive, Supreme Court-baiting antiabortion measure, this time voting to define a “person” as “an individual member of the species homo sapiens at every stage of development” — including human embryos.

In short: They have endowed fertilized eggs with the same rights as a living, breathing person. A move that would restrict all abortions except in narrowly defined cases where a woman’s life is at risk.

According to the abortion rights group Parents Against Personhood, the bill:

Contains an exception for “medical treatment of life-threatening conditions of pregnancy”, for “contraception administered before clinically diagnosable pregnancy,” and for “screening, collecting, preparing, transferring, or cryopreserving of a human being created through in vitro fertilization for the purpose of being transferred to a human uterus”.

But despite a nominal exception for the health of the mother, the measure would prevent doctors from treating complicated and potentially dangerous pregnancies, physicians say.

“SB 2303 will restrict a doctor’s ability to treat doomed pregnancies, putting women’s lives at risk,” Siri Fiebiger, a physician from Fargo who practices obstetrics and gynecology, said in a statement released Tuesday. “Ectopic pregnancies are, and miscarriages can be, life-threatening if not treated in a timely fashion,” Fiebiger added. “Complications during pregnancy should be managed by physicians according to the patient’s needs and values, without involvement by politicians.”

“The ethical treatment of human embryos” bill actually passed the state Senate twice this year. Because part of the floor amendment expanding prenatal coverage to every pregnant women in the state involved an estimated tens of millions of dollars, it was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It was passed again by the full Senate 24-23 on Tuesday. The measure will now move to the House, where it is expected to pass, as a similar measure did with a 68 to 25 majority in 2011.



If Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs the measure, North Dakota would become the first state to pass a “personhood” bill into law.

And the Supreme Court will certainly take notice, which is exactly what Republican lawmakers wanted in the first place:

“We are intending that it be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, since Scalia said that the Supreme Court is waiting for states to raise a case,” Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-N.D., the sponsor of the “personhood” initiative, told the Huffington Post.

Another piece of “personhood” legislation, Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009, passed the Senate earlier this month. If it passes the House, it will go on the ballot in November 2014. But as Salon has reported, similar initiatives have failed in Mississippi and (twice) in Colorado, and some have speculated the constitutional amendment would also fail in North Dakota.

But with the advancement of the latest personhood measure through the Senate, it is unclear what the fate of women’s constitutional right to abortion is in the state.

More to come as the House votes on the measure.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>