Catholic Bishops Voice Support for Pro-Life Bills
March 12, 2009

Bismarck, North Dakota - Speaking at the state capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota’s Roman Catholic bishops affirmed their support for state legislation to protect unborn human life, including a modified version of the “personhood” bill.

In a joint statement released at the event, Bishop Paul A. Zipfel of Bismarck and Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo reaffirmed their “steadfast commitment to defending human life from conception to natural death” and urged passage for legislation that would bring the state closer to ending abortion and to establishing legal protection for all unborn children.  “The people of North Dakota, through their public officials, have steadily and strategically advanced the cause for life, making the state one of the most pro-life in the nation,” the bishops said.

The bishops stated that several bills introduced this legislative session provide “another opportunity to move forward.”  The bishops expressed support for House Bill 1445 which requires that a woman considering an abortion be told that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being, HB 1371, which gives a woman an opportunity to view an ultrasound of her unborn child, SB 2265, which helps ensure that women are not coerced into abortions, and SB 2391, which improves the successful alternatives-to-abortion program.  The bishops also voiced their support for House Concurrent Resolution 3015, which expresses the legislature’s opposition to the Freedom of Choice Act.

Discussing House Bill 1572, which some have called the “personhood” bill, the bishops proposed a set of amendments to remedy perceived problems with the bill’s current language.  After consulting with various experts, including some with extensive and lengthy experience in abortion law, the bishops concluded that the bill’s existing language raises many unanswered questions, could lead to unintended consequences and injustices, and would not achieve the goal of providing a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and its progeny.

Expressing support for the bill’s concept, the bishops stated that they could support HB 1572 if it was amended to address the concerns. 

Download the statement here.

Download a summary of pro-life bills and the bishops’ positions here.

Download the proposed amendments here.

Download a description of what the amendments would do here.

Read a letter by Catholic University of America Law Professor Robert Destro on the amendments