Every Single Pro-Life Bill Passed By The North Dakota Legislature Has Had Bi-Partisan Support


The media narrative taking shape around the slate of pro-life bills passed by the state legislature has made it sound as though this legislation is somehow extreme. Grand Forks Herald publisher Mike Jacobs wrote that the passage of these bills illustrates that “zealotry has free rein” in the legislature. “Extremists not interested in abortion middle ground,” read the headline over Fargo Forum columnist Jane Ahlin’s column this week (it’s worth noting that Ahlin has ties to Planned Parenthood she doesn’t disclose).

“A dedicated cabal of zealots has been pushing the [pro-life] legislation,” wrote opinion editor Jack Zaleski for the Fargo Forum. “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.”

First, you have to marvel at how ideologically homogenous the commentators in the North Dakota media are. In a state dominated by Republicans, there’s not a single consistent right-of-center voice in the state’s mainstream media. Yet, they pretend to be unbiased. Ha.

Second, and to my point, what if I told you that every one of these “extreme” pieces of legislation that are supposedly the work of “zealots” were very much bi-partisan?

The House pro-life bills passed by the Senate had very strong support from Democrats. In the House, 26% of the Democrat caucus voted for both HB1305 (a ban on abortions for genetic selection) and HB1456 (a ban on abortions when a heartbeat is detected) with just one Democrat missing the vote.
In the Senate, 35% of the Democrat caucus voted for HB1305 and 21% voted for HB1456.

The Senate pro-life bills were a little more party-line, but still enjoyed support from some Democrats. In the House votes taken on Friday, SB2305 (requiring hospital admitting privileges for abortionists) had a single democrat vote. SB2368 (the personhood bill) has two Democrat votes. SCR4009 (enshrining the idea that life exists at all stages of development) had 3 Democrat votes. SB2303 (inserting SCR4009’s definition of life into the criminal code) had two Democrat votes.

Again, that’s not a lot of bi-partisan support, but then the legislature itself isn’t very bi-partisan. There just aren’t a lot of Democrats serving there (a lot of the Democrats serving there call themselves Republicans).

So not only did every single one of these bills, with the exception of SB2303 which failed in the House, not only had majority support but bi-partisan support. Quite a lot of bi-partisan support, in some instances.

Now, we can all agree or disagree with whether or not the legislature has made the right decisions with these votes. But calling all of this legislation “extreme” or the work of “zealots” is to insult a bi-partisan majority in both houses of the legislature who were, in turn, elected by a majority of the people of North Dakota.

On a related note, I had to laugh when I saw that Rep. Kathy Hawken (ostensibly a Republican who has lent her name and party affiliation to the pro-abortion activists) didn’t vote on a single one of these pro-life bills. Hawken may oppose them publicly, but she apparently lacks the gumption to turn words into votes.

Maybe she didn’t want to get dinged with the pro-life groups put out their vote rankings.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • sbark

    Hawken may oppose them publicly, but she apparently lacks the gumption to turn words into votes.
    …………did she at least vote present like Obama would’ve

    • Lianne

      NO, she did not. Now, she may have had a serious reason for not showing up, but after Triplett’s tantrum, it is hard not to question Hawken’s absence.

      • Guest

        Why does your side only resort to legislative means to prevent abortion? A woman will have a right to a safe, legal abortion in this country for the forseeable future as the Religious Right has lost this issue along with every other issue they contest. Wouldn’t your time be better spent at the grassroots level trying to prevent abortion through contraception, economic assistance, etc? Or is it really just about punishing women?

        • two_amber_lamps

          Hiya Gusty! Why does your side resort to ideologically driven judicial means to sanction murder?

          • toomuchguvmint

            Those pursuing and promoting barbaric acts against unborn women and men are not really too concerned about the means taken to end unborn life they deem unfit or unnecessary.

        • Liane

          First, economic assistance was voted down by democrats and a few RINO”S. It was in the bill. Medical assistance for every woman who was pregnant. Second, I will defend life on any day. I do believe we need to have pro-abortion tattooed on every supporter and when they come into ER, they are left to die. How is that for fairness?

          • Missbreaks

            You will defend life on any day but believe you should let someone die who doesn’t believe the same as you – wow

          • Lianne

            No, only following through with the lack of belief in life itself witha hypothetical question. Does it feel a bit differently when posed in that question? I thought so.

  • ec99

    Sorry to sound cynical, but this is really nothing more than feel-good posturing. Legislators could vote yes to their heart’s content, and say to their constituents “What a good boy am I”, while knowing full well none of these laws will pass Constitutional muster. Then they will say “Well, we really tried to eliminate abortion from North Dakota, but those activist courts just don’t respect life the way we do.” Thing is, litigation is going to cost millions, and the result is already known. A state legislature cannot change the parameters of a ruling of the Supreme Court. The question may be: when they are struck down the first time, will the state appeal, thus driving the legal tab even higher?

    • sbark

      legal tab…………ironically we saved even a little chunk of it from the Planned Parenthood “research”…….could say PP is financing our fight against abortion :)

      • ec99

        That won’t come close, especially if each law is dealt with individually. As with the nickname suit, the AG will not handle this in-house. He’ll hire a law firm whose lead attorney will likely charge $500/hr, nevermind the law clerks who will dothe grunt work. Then there are fellow partners who will get in on the gravy train, oops, I mean, consult. The there will be the fees for expert witnesses. Then the $1.00 per photocopy charge. Plus everything else under the sun. Law firms know how to exploit a pot of gold. The Salt Lake firm that handled the nickname suit billed $1,038,000, and it never went to trial.

    • RCND

      We spend millions on a couple miles of road so our shocks last longer and we can drive a little faster. I guess in comparison I’m fine spending millions if there is even a chance of saving some human beings who can’t defend themselves

      • ec99

        My point was that there is no chance. The ND Legislature passed bills which contradict Supreme Court rulings. These laws are dead in the water from the get-go.

        • RCND

          Maybe maybe not. My point is the whole court case argument has become nothing more than a safe house for people to hide out in so they can claim to be pro life while getting away with not actually doing anything to reverse the trend of sucking human beings down a drain because they may somehow be an inconvenience.

          • ec99

            For me, the whole court case argument is that you do not pass bills you know will be nullified in the courts, in order for you to look good in front of your constituents. And if the legislators were not aware of this, they should have reviewed all the case law since Roe v. Wade before their vote.

          • RCND

            That may be a way if looking at it but if we applied that mindset to every issue we might still have slavery. Remember the Dred Scott case upheld it. Abortion is equally a reprehensible act as slavery is because of the way it devalues human life

          • ec99

            Then what you are looking at is not legislation, but courts or an amendment to change the system. No congressional bill could overrule Dred Scott. People have to realize that, lacking a major shift, the elimination of abortion will only come through a consitutional amendment. States can try to attenuate the surgical procedure, making it more difficult. But the courts have struck down every effort.

          • RCND

            I only brought up court cases because you did. I do agree that an amendment will do a lot, but I also believe that you don’t have to pick one method and stick to it. An amendment can and should be worked on simultaneous with other efforts.

            There will simply not be a risk-free approach to winning this fight. But the gains we could achieve and good that could be done if we engage in the fight (even if we lose a few battles) is still worth the risks taken. There have simply been too many garbage bins filled up with pieces of defenseless human remains not to engage in this fight and take the risks inherent with it.

          • ec99

            Look, I sympathize with your exasperation. The thing is, the genie was let out of the bottle with Roe v. Wade. There is no going back. Especially since there seems to be no tsumani of opinion in the country against abortion.

          • Hoth

            No, it wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment as abortion isn’t mentioned anywhere in the constitution. The problem as it stands is one of interpretation. We had a liberal court in the 70’s that found that the constitution protects a non-existent right. What the court should have said is that there is nothing in the Constitution that allows the federal govt to decide this matter. Therefore, per the 10th Amendment, the individual States have the final say in this matter. We need to keep throwing this at the court until they admit that they don’t have the authority to impose their will on the entire country.

          • ec99

            What you are saying is that a subsequent Supreme Court would have to rule against the precedent of a previous one. Care to cite when that has happened in the past? In Roe v. Wade, the ruling had the same meaning as if the Constitution declared abortion legal. You don’t like Harry Blackmun’s reasoning? Too bad. That was the result, and that became de jure the way things would operate.

          • Hoth

            Bullshit precedent is bullshit. Here are ten cases where the Supreme Court overturned itself.


            No, it isn’t the way things operate.

          • ec99

            Every example cited was the result of change in societal morés from sex, to race, to labor, to loyalty oaths. There has been no societal change in regard to abortion. There are plenty of critics, but the there has been no massive hue and cry to make it illegal once again.

          • Hoth

            That does nothing to change the fact that in Roe vs. Wade the SC claimed that the federal government had powers that are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, and which are in fact, denied to the federal govt by the 10th amendment.

          • ec99

            In Roe v. Wade, a majority opinion held that the Constitution guaranteed a right to privacy, on which legalizing abortion is based. As I said, like Blackmun’s extrapolation or not, that became the official stance.

          • Hoth

            I’m not arguing that, you’re right, it did become the official stance. I’m saying that his interpretation is wrong, is unconstitutional, and that every opportunity should be taken to correct it.

          • ec99

            So, seriously, how do you go about declaring a Supreme Court decision, which theoretically and legally represents the final judgement on what the Constitution says, unconstitutional? I mean this in all sincerity.

          • Hoth

            There is actually nothing in the constitution that says that the SC has the final say on what the Constitution means, so (in theory) the Executive and Legislature “could” over rule them, but that is highly unlikely to happen. That leaves us with the only option of continuously throwing this matter before the court and giving it as many opportunities as we can to figure out that it was wrong and over rule itself, thereby leaving it up to the individual states to determine the legality/illegality of abortion. I’m not saying it will be easy or even likely, but it’s pretty much the only way. And frankly, I really don’t care how much it costs to take these cases before the SC.

        • Lianne

          ec99, I firmly believe that the Roe V Wade should never have passed in the first place. We have killed millions of babies because of loud pushy broads pushing ERA. They were as extreme as the pushy over-reaching anti-smoking crowd. Luckily, the state legislators stepped in to remove a couple of those things, like signs on garage doors and official vehicles. Roe V Wade was based on a lie. There are three parts in Roe v Wade and two parts have now slowly been brought back into the discussion.

          In this country, full of compassionate liberals should never be having this discussion.

          So, of course, we need to have the fight. If life is not worth fighting for, what else is there? You know me and hope! But, this is more than hope. It is a deeply believed conviction.

          • ec99

            I am not arguing for or against abortion. In fact, in the years I’ve posted here, I have never expressed an opinion on the subject. My point is that the bills passed by the ND Legislature this session will be found unconstitutional. No court at any level will accept standards which conflict with those expressed in Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions. Does that mean I believe those who wish to see it declared illegal should end their quest? No. I am simply syaing the route taken by the Legislature will end in disappointment.

          • Lianne

            So, you are preparing us for yet another of the many disappointments we inccur in life. There are three parts to Roe v Wade. We will have to see what happens.

          • ec99

            In essence, yes. The bills have passed, and may be signed. But that is just the start of a legal process for which I hope people are not too optimistic.

  • borborygmi

    renegades in every party.

  • Mike Adamson

    The fact that pro-life Democrats exist shouldn’t surprise anyone IMO.

  • Dallas

    I appreciate people like Connie and Kathy when they refuse to participate in debates over bigotry, theocratic intolerance. Just walk, leave the zealots looking like the fools they are.

    Margaret has family problems of her own. She should take care of the problems before demanding others follow her discombobulated belief system.
    A little bit of Bette, Margaret, Jim Dobson, Rush, Michell Bachman, Newt the Nut, and Ted Cruz goes a long way? Have and had a mental exam.

  • Jitter

    The AG will defend this law. Given the nature and parties in the nickname suit, he could not defend all the state actors, so his office elected to represent the State Board of Higher Education rather than the Secretary of State, who was an opposing party and thus had counsel from a private firm paid at state expense because he was a state official being sued in his official capacity. The Legislature intervened in the suit as well, requiring a second private firm to be retained to represent them, again to avoid conflicts of interest. I think the private lawyers charged something around half of $500 per hour. There is a pending challenge in Cass County to a 2011 state law regulating abortion, and the AG is defending that suit just as he will defend challenges to these.

    • ec99

      He will defend the cases. But this is not a nickname, which was never going to go to trial. This is a case which will slog through the courts while the lawyerss meter is constantly running. ND government better set aside a bundle for it.

      • Jitter

        I don’t think you understand my point. When I say the AG will defend these laws, I mean his office will, the lawyers who already work on the public payroll. In other words, the meter is paid already. These cases will not go to trial either. They are not so much about facts as they are law, which means no trial.

        • ec99

          He went outside for the nickname lawsuit. He’ll do the same in this case. He needs lawyers who are experts in Constitutional law and case histories. His office specializes in open meeting laws.

          • Jitter

            Again, you miss my points: 1) he went outside for the nickname lawsuit because he had to — his office already represented one of the state parties to the suit whose interests were adverse to the other state parties to the suit; and 2) he already has one assistant defending a previously-passed state law regarding the regulation of abortion in this state.

            It appears you misunderstand those and the kinds of broad experience and expertise the assistant attorneys general have. There is an extremely able solicitor general among several others who could handle any abortion-related litigation adeptly without having to go outside the office.

  • Roger Johnson

    It’s what’s for breakfast and it’s also the fate of the abortion bills.

  • JustAVoice

    So I have to ask all of you who claim you want a small fiscally responsible government why on earth do you think these bills are good laws? I am sorry but the last place legislation belongs is in my reproductive health! I honestly wonder how you men would feel if the laws impacted your reproductive organs. How about we create a law that says all ejaculation has to be only for the creation of life, that would mean no masturbation or if the man prematurely ejaculates it would be illegal as it would prevent conception and all men after having two children have to have a vasectomy.