Catholic Conference Applauds State Supreme Court Decision, Calls for Passage of Measure 1 to Settle Questions
The North Dakota Catholic Conference, acting on behalf of the state’s Catholic bishops, responded favorably to today’s ruling by the North Dakota Supreme Court and called on voters to decide the unresolved question of whether the state constitution contains a right to abortion.
Christopher Dodson, executive director of the conference stated: “This is a good day for the protection of women’s health and for affirming the right of elected officials to establish regulations to protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions.” He noted, however, that the split decision by the court demonstrates “more than ever why North Dakotans must pass Measure 1 on November 4.” He added: “The people of North Dakota have a right to decide this question before the abortion lobby comes back into the state to try again to strike down laws that even the U.S. Supreme Court has said we can pass.”
The North Dakota Catholic Conference submitted a friend of the court brief defending the law.
Dodson’s full statement follows.
Today the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed a ruling by Judge Wickham Corwin striking down the state’s regulation of abortion-inducing drugs. We applaud the ruling. This is a good day for the protection of women’s health and for affirming the right of elected officials to establish regulations to protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions.
Although Judge Corwin’s decision was reversed and the law passed in 2011 can now go into effect, the North Dakota Supreme Court did not resolve whether the North Dakota Constitution provides a right to abortion. The court was evenly split on that question.
The split opinion demonstrates more than ever why North Dakotans must pass Measure 1 on November 4. The people of North Dakota have a right to decide this question before the abortion lobby comes back into the state to try again to strike down laws that even the U.S. Supreme Court has said we can pass.
Measure 1 was placed on the ballot by a majority of North Dakota’s legislators to protect laws that we asked them to pass. These laws protect unborn life, women’s health, and parental involvement, as well prevent taxpayer funding for abortion on demand. These are laws the U.S. Supreme Court said we could enact.
See also . . .
Bismarck, ND—ND Choose Life announced today that North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer has announced his enthusiastic support for Measure 1—the Human Life Amendment—which was placed on the November ballot by North Dakota Legislators.
“As North Dakota’s Congressman, and a life-long North Dakotan, I fully support Measure 1,” says Congressman Kevin Cramer. “North Dakota is the great state it is today because we respect families, common sense, and human life. Measure 1 reflects our values. It’s a sensible measure to make sure that North Dakotans can decide what is best for North Dakotans, instead of a judge influenced by wealthy out-of-state interest groups that don’t share our values. “
“We greatly appreciate that Congressman Kevin Cramer has endorsed Measure 1—which will protect the common-sense pro-life laws passed in North Dakota by our legislators,” said Janne Myrdal, ND Choose Life chairwoman. “We are thankful for his strong pro-life voice that resonates with the majority of North Dakotans and continues to reinforce the values of our state.”
Congressman Cramer further states, “I urge every North Dakotan to join me in support of North Dakota and vote Yes on Measure 1.”
ND Choose Life is a coalition of pro-life, pro-family, women’s and religious organizations that include the North Dakota Catholic Conference, North Dakota Family Alliance, North Dakota Right to Life and the North Dakota chapter of Concerned Women for America LAC, among others.
Gallup recently concluded a comprehensive survey of all 50 states on a variety of indicators, including economics, public affairs, education, the environment, and well-being. The result: North Dakota ranks first among the states on almost every measurement. The findings come as no surprise. Other surveys show North Dakotans giving high ranks to the North Dakota legislature and other elected officials.
Democrat or Republican, this is mostly good news for the state’s incumbents. With approval ratings that high, voters are unlikely to remove sitting lawmakers. A consistent rule in politics is that people don’t like to rock the boat when the boat appears to be on the right course.
Despite the will of the people, however, the “boat” can be rocked, forced to change direction, or even capsized by the courts. Recognition of this real threat to North Dakota’s success and way of life is why a bipartisan majority of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly put Measure 1 on the ballot.
Measure 1 is an amendment to the state constitution. It states: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
The state’s elected lawmakers put Measure 1 on the ballot in response to a court decision by a local judge in Fargo. That judge struck down a reasonable safety regulation on the use of abortion-inducing drugs on the grounds that the North Dakota Constitution contains a “right to abortion” that is so broad that even laws upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court would be found unconstitutional under the state constitution.
The judge’s “reasoning” is that the “liberty clause” of the state constitution means that a woman can abort her child without any meaningful oversight by the state to protect her health and safety or, where possible, the life of the unborn child. That portion of 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 . . .”
Most people reading this may ask why the right to life in the same sentence does not prevent this kind of ruling. Apparently, the judge did not think that the right to life applied to every life. For that reason, legislators responded with Measure 1, which would document what we had always thought – that the existing right to life applies to every human being at any stage of development.
The defeat of Measure 1 would have devastating consequences for our state. It would mean that courts could decide that this expansive “liberty” right trumps the right to life, especially for the unborn, disabled, and depressed. For abortion advocates from places like New York and California, this is exactly what they want. They have already established expansive rights to abortions in about a dozen states, but never one based on a liberty clause – something every state constitution possesses. For them, what the judge in Fargo gave them was the ultimate prize – a road map for securing an almost unlimited right to abortion in every state.
Montana illustrates what happens when state courts are given free reign to create abortion rights. The courts in Montana have struck down popular laws limiting taxpayer funding for abortions, requiring parental notice prior to a minor undergoing an abortion, requiring a 24-hour reflection period prior to an abortion, informed consent requirements, and even a law requiring that only a licensed physician perform an abortion. But it does not stop there. A judge in Montana has concluded that the “right to abortion” found in the state constitution also provides a right to assisted suicide.
Surveys show that a majority of North Dakotans are pro-life. Perhaps most Montanans are as well. The difference between North Dakota and Montana is that abortion advocates were allowed to use the courts to block common-sense pro-life laws to protect unborn children, the sick and dying, and women’s health and safety.
These laws are part of the social fabric which build the culture of life in North Dakota. They are part of what makes North Dakota such a great place to live. Let’s stop outside interests groups from destroying what North Dakotans have created. Let’s pass Measure 1 this November.
Christopher Dodson, Executive Director, North Dakota Catholic Conference
This column was originally printed in the September issue of New Earth, the newspaper for the Diocese of Fargo.
A Vote for Life
Bishop John T. Folda
This is a time of opportunity in the state of North Dakota. Right now, we have an opportunity to establish a culture of life in our state and even in our nation. Our state legislature voted last year to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, which is often called the Human Life Amendment. For very good reasons, our lawmakers believed this constitutional amendment was needed to protect the laws that already offer many protections for women and unborn children. The legislators were concerned that these common sense laws would be overturned by individual judges, and they were right. Some of our pro-life laws have already been overturned, and others are at risk. That is why the Human Life Amendment will be on the ballot this November as Measure 1.
The language of Measure 1 is simple and completely consistent with our understanding of the dignity of all human life. It reads, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” It would seem hard to argue with the simple, self-evident truth contained in those words. And, it is hard to imagine why such a clear affirmation of the value of life should be excluded from the constitutional principles that will shape our laws.
Although the proposed amendment is a legal statement, it is remarkably similar to the stated beliefs and teachings of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.” (2270) And, the Catechism goes on to say, “The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation.” (2273) Moreover, within this past year, Pope Francis tells us that “a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 213) The wording of Measure 1 is eminently sensible, and deserves the support of all persons who respect the right to life.
There are some who oppose the passage of Measure 1 who have grossly misconstrued its meaning and its possible consequences. One of the most significant mischaracterizations is the assertion that Measure 1 would interfere with end of life care and advance directives. In fact, a group of elder care experts have made it clear that Measure 1 will not affect end of life decisions, and will actually strengthen a person’s ability to stop third parties from denying them the care they need. And, keep in mind that the bishops of North Dakota and the North Dakota Catholic Conference have publicly and vigorously supported advanced directives and patient directed end-of-life care. I can assure you that the bishops of our state would never support Measure 1 if we believed it would jeopardize the rights of the elderly, the ill or the dying. It seems to me that some of the opponents of Measure 1 are simply using scare tactics to divert attention from the actual language and the real purpose of this proposed constitutional amendment. The facts can be found on the website www.NDChooseLife.org. I hope you will take a few moments to read what it has to say.
Some might argue that the Church and its pastors, including this bishop, should stay out of politics and should not tell people how to vote. But, the right to life is more than a matter of politics. It is a matter of truth and moral principle. Political activity shapes public policy, which is the concrete expression of ethics and morality, and affects the lives of all of us. Public policy decisions are too important to be divorced from morality, and the Church has always tried to bring her understanding of the eternal truths to bear on the shaping of culture and public life. For centuries, the Church has worked in the public square for justice, peace, the dignity of workers and the rights of the poor, the sick, the unborn and the elderly. This moment in the history of our state is no different. As some try to diminish the dignity of human life and its protection, the Church reaffirms her constant teaching that all human life is sacred. Pope Francis himself tells us, “An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 183)
As people of faith, we have a responsibility to work for the common good, and this must undoubtedly include working for the protection of life, the most fundamental good of all. Will we allow outside forces to impose a culture of death upon our state? We have a chance to keep this from happening. Don’t be afraid to stand up for life in a public way, and if you can, tell others about this important issue, or even volunteer to help with the campaign. Once again, this is a time of opportunity, and I hope you will join me in voting for Measure 1 this fall, so that our state of North Dakota might continue to move towards a culture of life.
Bismarck, ND- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bismarck, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fargo and the North Dakota Catholic Conference were of the first organizations of faith across North Dakota to stand up and endorse Measure 1 – The Human Life Amendment.
ND Choose Life announces several more organizations have united with the Dioceses in supporting Measure 1 with their endorsements. These include the North Dakota Knights of Columbus, the North Dakota District of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, North Dakota District Council of the Assemblies of God, St. Thomas More Society of North Dakota, Saint Gianna Maternity Home, St. Gerard’s Community of Care and North Dakota Catholic Physicians Group among many others.
“Organizations and churches across the state are uniting in support of Measure 1-The Human Life Amendment,” Myrdal continues, “We are thrilled to see so many heavy hitters standing to support the values of North Dakota as getting the truth to the faith community is critical.”
Measure 1 was placed on the November 4th ballot by a bipartisan majority of ND State Legislators. It reads, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
“We have some wonderful laws on the books such as ensuring that women are given full disclosure of information prior to an abortion, making sure parents are notified if their daughter is seeking an abortion, and prohibiting children who are partially born from being killed before their birth can be completed,” said Janne Myrdal, chairwoman of ND Choose Life. “This amendment will provide urgently needed legal protections in our state constitution to make sure our sensible laws to protect life, women, and families are upheld in the courts.”
ND Choose Life is a collaborative committee comprised of pro-life organizations across North Dakota working as one voice to pass Measure 1; the Human Life Amendment. The growing list of endorsements are available at www.ndchooselife.com/endorsements. For more information about ND Choose Life, go to www.ndchooselife.com.
Bismarck, ND – Fr. Frank Pavone the National Director of Priests for Life and also the President of National Pro-life Religious Council announced today that he stands in support of the Human Life Amendment – Measure 1 in North Dakota.
“I have been proud to stand with the Roman Catholic bishops (Bishops Folda and Kagan) and pro-life people of North Dakota for many years, in many parts of the state, and I have seen their determination to protect the youngest and most defenseless children,” said Fr. Frank Pavone. “Now that determination manifests itself in the bipartisan, majority decision of the state legislature to place on the ballot the Human Life Amendment (Measure 1). Its designation is appropriate, because this amendment should be our number 1 priority for prayer and action.”
Measure 1 reads as “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
Fr. Frank Pavone further notes that, “Protecting children in their first months of existence is not optional; it is the duty of the state and of the family. I am confident that it is also the will of the people of North Dakota, and I urge them to help their fellow citizens rise to this occasion, seize this opportunity, and vote for this amendment.”
Bismarck, ND—ND Choose Life announced today that North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and former first lady Mikey Hoeven have announced their support for Measure 1—the Human Life Amendment—which was placed on the November ballot by a bi-partisan majority of the North Dakota Legislature.
“Mikey and I believe that it is important to protect life,” said Senator Hoeven.
As governor of North Dakota, Hoeven signed legislation that allowed women to see an ultrasound of their unborn child prior to an abortion, and legislation that required the abortion practitioner to inform women that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
“Senator Hoeven and Mikey Hoeven have a long track record of standing up for women and unborn children,” said Janne Myrdal, chairwoman of ND Choose Life. “We are thankful for their strong pro-life voice, and greatly appreciate that he and Mikey have endorsed Measure 1—which will protect the common-sense pro-life laws passed in North Dakota,” Myrdal added.
Bismarck, ND – St. Gerard’s Community of Care in Hankinson, ND recently released their statement of support for Measure 1 in their summer newsletter News from the Neighborhood.
The newsletter reads:
We believe these implications about threats to making end-of-life plans, including advance directives, are unfounded and are, in fact, a smokescreen for what opponents of Measure 1 really want to achieve: a constitutional guarantee of unlimited abortion for North Dakotans. It seems that if the amendment can’t be beaten in ND arguing for abortion rights, than its detractors are willing to attack it from the other end of the life spectrum.
On July 25, Mr. Morrison presented on Measure 1 at the ND Long Term Care Association’s meeting for nursing home administrators and key personnel. It was very clear throughout his lecture on which side of the Measure 1 debate he stands. We think that Steven Morrison presenting himself as a crusader for the elderly at this point is hardly genuine when it is clear just where his interests lie from his years of work for pro-abortion organizations and public support of Judge Corwin’s decision almost a year ago.
The administration of St. Gerard’s cautions everyone to read very carefully editorials and letters regarding Measure 1, and to question what you hear on the talk shows. We urge you to consider the sources and ask what their interest is. In our opinion and based on our study of the matter, Measure 1, a simple statement, is being construed as a Trojan Horse full of troops ready to annihilate the rights of the elderly, when nothing could be further from the truth.
The amendment simply states that every human life must be protected, an attitude towards human life that is the basis of St. Gerard’s healthcare mission. A yes vote means you agree that human life should be protected. A no vote means you disagree with that statement, and therefore not all human life deserves protection. Using common sense when making our minds up about Measure 1 will prevent our being influenced by people like Professor Morrison who are committed advocates of abortion, now putting themselves forward as advocates for the elderly.
To read the full letter including the history of the Human Life Amendment, please click here.
“In keeping with their mission, St. Gerard’s Community of Care notes they have the obligation to demand from all persons in its organization the accountability for performance, including adherence to the professional and institutional standards, and to its ethical and moral principles, and conduct in accord with respect for the dignity of each person,” said Janne Myrdal, ND Choose Life Chairwoman.
“After listening to the opposition’s scare tactics regarding Measure 1 affecting end-of-life directives, they have taken a stand to protect the elderly population they serve by understanding that Measure 1 will not change any existing laws and will not impact end of life care decisions, she added.”
St. Gerard’s Community of Care is owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Francis. This facility is a 37-bed skilled nursing home, with an independent living wing, and also hosts child care services and a preschool program. St. Gerard’s is located in Hankinson, ND, where residents, family and staff are well known to one another.
Bishop David Kagan, D.D., P.A., J.C.L, Bishop of the Bismarck Dioceses, recently published the following letter regarding the Human Life Amendment – Measure 1, in the Dakota Catholic Action newsletter.
Bishop Kagan notes: “As all of you know, our courageous state legislators passed the Human Life Amendment to our state constitution by a bipartisan margin and thus, placed it on the November ballot for all North Dakota citizens to vote on.
You have seen and will continue to see all sorts of lies being put out about what this will do to the laws on the books in North Dakota. Please do not believe them, as not one of these assertions is the truth. This amendment will protect all of the real, common sense laws passed and now on the books here. Our laws which govern every stage of our lives will be protected from the slick, outside special interest groups which want to have our courts do what our good legislators have refused to do—that is, place in real and imminent danger your ability to make the needed decisions about your own life and that of others who are depending on you.
If you vote YES for MEASURE 1, you will protect yourself and every other person in North Dakota from being told by outsiders what you can and cannot do with your life, health and that of your children and friends. If you vote no, then you who are parents will not be able to be notiﬁed if your underage daughter is having an abortion; you who are senior citizens will not have the right to change your minds about the kind of care you want when you are sick or near death. A judge will decide that for you!
In the coming weeks much will be written and said about MEASURE 1. I intend to vote YES and I urge you to do the same. This is a matter of life and I know you will do what is best for the protection of yours and mine. May God bless us, our state, and our nation!”
Published in the Dakota Catholic Action September 2014 issue.
Bishop David D. Kagan was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the seventh Bishop of Bismarck on November 30, 2011.