Answering the Baseless Claims About the Abortion Bills
by Christopher Dodson
Executive Director, North Dakota Catholic Conference
April 2013

As just about everyone in North Dakota knows, the legislature and Governor Dalrymple have enacted three pro-life measures. Even before their enactment, opponents of the measures started a campaign of misinformation and attacks that, backed by Planned Parenthood’s money, will probably continue for years. Some of the claims, even if ultimately without merit, deserve some detailed discussion. Other statements, however, are so silly and factually baseless that we should immediately dispose of them as having no legitimacy. Here are some of them:

Claim: The “bills” ban all abortions.

Only one of the bills bans abortion and that one has exceptions. One bill prohibits gender and genetic abnormality discrimination in the womb. Another merely requires that an abortionist have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

North Dakota has moved “backwards” with the most “restrictive laws in the nation.”

This turns the issue on its head. Protecting more human lives under the law is moving forward. Rather than “restricting” rights, the bills expand rights. No one today calls the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment “restrictive.” Why should these measures, which also extend legal protections, be called restrictive?

Claim: All the legislation was jointly dictated by Representative Bette Grande and Senator Margaret Sitte

Nothing infuriates pro-abortion groups more than women taking the lead for pro-life legislation. Not able to intellectually explain why women are pro-life, abortion activists released a barrage of vitriol directed personally at Sitte and Grande. So quick are they to attack that they do not check the facts. Sometimes Grande has been criticized for something involving Sitte and visa versa. In some cases, neither were involved. Moreover, although Grande and Sitte have certainly played leadership roles on pro-life bills - usually separately - it takes majorities in committees and chambers to pass legislation. The sole reason for animosity directed at them is that they were women who dared to speak out for the defense of life, violating the “all women are pro-choice” picture abortion proponents try so hard to paint.

Claim: The legislation is anti-science and establishes a theocracy

Anyone who sat through the committee hearings and floor debates will attest that the bill’s proponents relied on science and rarely, if ever, used religious arguments. The opponents, however, evaded scientific questions and invoked fuzzy religious-sounding arguments about when life begins. The mere fact that supporters of life are motivated by religious beliefs does not mean that the law itself is religious.

Claim: The number of letters in the paper and Facebook posts opposing the bills means that most people oppose the measures.

Facebook posts are a silly way to measure public sentiment and anyone who has tried to get their letter printed in a newspaper will tell you that not every letter gets published. We actually have a system for determining public opinion called representative democracy. It is not a perfect system but representatives elected directly by local citizens better reflect the will of the people than the number of letters in a newspaper.

Claim: The Legislature is obsessed with abortion this year

Although legislators should not have to apologize for making protection of human life a priority, the claim is far from the truth. Taxes, roads, energy, and many other issues dominate the legislature’s time and attention. They gave the pro-life bills due attention, but were not preoccupied by them. The preoccupation comes from the media and blogs that, lacking an explanation that suits their pro-abortion rights world-view, has tried to portray the North Dakota legislature as a bunch of wild-eyed theocrats intent on only passing abortion bills.

Claim: Legislators were bullied by a few into making bad law

The writer of this accusation certainly has little understanding of how the legislature works or respect for legislators. Do they really think that a handful of legislators could intimidate a majority of legislator from both political parties? Moreover, it was the abortion rights groups, not the pro-lifers, that used rallies and heavy-handed tactics to try to convince legislators to oppose the bills.

Claim: Supporting a possibly unconstitutional bill is a violation of the oath to support the constitution

Supporting the constitution can mean several things, but it can’t mean never supporting or signing a bill that might be unconstitutional. If that were true, the Supreme Court would never have any cases to decide.

Claim: Roe v. Wade is the law of the land

Roe v. Wade has not been the law of the land for decades. The U.S. Supreme Court, though not going far enough in the direction of protecting life, has repeatedly reshaped abortion jurisprudence, usually moving in the direction of protecting human life. Let us pray the court continues to move in that direction.