Christopher Dodson: Measure 1 opponent offers confused arguments
BISMARCK — Steven Morrison claims that if Measure 1 is not self-executing, so as to not impact in-vitro fertilization and end-of-life care, it cannot also prevent activist judges from creating a right to abortion in the state constitution (“Measure 1 supporters offer confused arguments,” Viewpoint, Page A4, Oct. 22). It looks like he is the one getting confused.
The North Dakota Constitution states: “All individuals are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty …” The clause is a classic example of a provision that is not self-executing. It states general objectives and principles for the constitution and not an enforceable rule. That did not, however, prevent a judge from interpreting the sentence to grant a right to abortion.
Morrison later submitted a brief urging the state Supreme Court to affirm the judge’s opinion. Apparently, a non self-executing provision cannot be used to interpret the constitution — except when it suits Morrison’s agenda.
Morrison’s assertions that the Arkansas and Missouri laws are different from Measure 1 are embarrassingly wrong. To begin with, he focuses on the wrong section of the Arkansas Constitution. The relevant section states: “The policy of Arkansas is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception until birth …” The section is substantially similar to Measure 1. Secondly, he makes the rookie mistake of thinking that because the title of the amendment states “abortion” it must only be about abortion. Morrison must have forgotten that titles are not law.
He claims the Missouri law is different because it does not provide a cause of action for failure to provide prenatal care. True, but nor does Measure 1.
Getting the courts to find an almost unlimited right to abortion is the real agenda of many opponents of Measure 1, which is why the opposition is being funded almost entirely by the out-of-state abortion lobby. The claims about IVF and end-of-life care don’t hold up against legal scrutiny, and they are banking that the average voter will not realize that fact.
The truth is that Measure 1, like the Arkansas and Missouri provisions, cannot impact IVF, pregnancy care or end-of-life decisions. It can, however, like in Arkansas and Missouri, prevent our state’s laws from being re-interpreted to create an expansive right to abortion.
Dodson is executive director and general counsel of the North Dakota Catholic Conference.