Late yesterday, the North Dakota legislature passed what would be the strictest abortion laws in the nation. The personhood amendment that Mconvente mentioned yesterday is the one making the news right now, but two others that were passed are no less onerous. One law would ban abortions after 20 weeks except in a medical emergency--thus eliminating exceptions for rape and incest. Another would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The latter measure would likely put the state's only abortion clinic out of business, since that clinic has only had to take one patient to the hospital in 10 years and most hospitals require doctors to admit 10 patients per year to retain admitting privileges.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, North Dakota's largest newspaper, realizes just how off-the-charts crazy these bills are. In a strongly-worded editorial, it calls for Governor Jack Dalrymple to veto the two bills requiring his signature--the ban on abortions after 20 weeks and the admitting-privileges requirement.
The bills are unconstitutional.The Forum points out--rightly--that these bills are based on badly flawed logic, and will only tie up the state in years of costly litigation since they're court challenges waiting to happen.
They are astonishing violations of the patient-doctor relationship.
They constitute a guarantee of lengthy court challenges that will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, and the state will certainly lose.
They are a direct threat to North Dakota’s tops-in-the-nation health care sector, and perverse incentives for medical school graduates to practice anywhere but in North Dakota.
A dedicated cabal of zealots has been pushing the legislation. They have threatened political consequences if lawmakers don’t vote their way. Legislators who normally are motivated by common sense have been cowed. It’s been a disappointing spectacle to see good legislators tumble like pawns in the zealots’ political chess game.
Dalrymple should not be part of that crowd. As a former legislator, the governor sometimes defers too easily to the Legislature. And while his service in the North Dakota House, in particular as chairman of the Appropriations Committee for many years, was outstanding, he wears the governor’s hat now. When the lawmaking branch makes bad law, he is obligated to say so, and then to exercise the veto.
It should be pointed out that The Forum has historically been a very Republican newspaper. So for it to come out so strongly against this measure is pretty telling.
Believe it or not, there is a chance that these monstrosities can be derailed. Neither of the bills passed with veto-proof majorities in either chamber. The ban on abortions after 20 weeks passed by only 60-32 in the state house and 30-17 in the state senate--in both cases, two votes short of an override. The admitting privileges requirement passed the state house by only 58-34, four votes short of an override. It passed the senate by 30-17--two votes short of an override. And of course, it's a safe bet someone's going to go to court to seek injunctions the minute they become law.
Drop Dalrymple a line here and tell him to veto these stupid bills.