Let’s fast-forward to a hypothetical version of this January.
You’ve got some Christmas cash to blow and head to Scheels or another sporting goods store. In the firearms section, you see a piece that is just perfect. (Back in the day, mine was a Ruger .38 Special, or basically the noisy-cricket from Men in Black, but that’s neither here nor there). You tell the cashier you want to buy, have your 2 minute background check completed by phone, check the boxes and sign the form presented required for handgun ownership. You’re ready to hand over the cash, and the sales person stops you.
She says, before I am able to sell you this item, I am required to read you the following script:
“The state of North Dakota believes that ‘firearm’ means any weapon which will expel, or is readily capable of expelling, a projectile by the action of an explosive and includes any such weapon, loaded or unloaded, commonly referred to as a pistol, revolver, rifle, gun, machine gun, shotgun, bazooka, or cannon.
The use of such an item may result in death or ‘serious bodily injury, defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, unconsciousness, extreme pain, permanent loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, a bone fracture, or impediment of air flow or blood flow to the brain or lungs.’ ()
Firearms were involved in the deaths of seven homicide victims last year. Between , firearms were involved in 90 homicides in the state of North Dakota. If you would like to pursue other methods of protection or sporting endeavors, I am presenting you with a list of resources on self-defense classes and archery. Do you have any questions?”
I’m guessing your reaction would range from “Are you kidding me? I know my rights and I know what is best for my family and me. This is ridiculous!” to some string of obscenities I can’t print.
Well, this is how most women feel when making an appointment for an abortion with the Red River Women’s Clinic and are forced to listen to a script that includes the following:
“To complete your appointment, I need to read you the following state mandated information.”
“The State of North Dakota requires that, at least 24 hours before your abortion, we offer you the opportunity to receive and view an active ultrasound of your pregnancy, including, if possible, hearing auscultation of the fetal heart tone at this facility or another facility.”
“North Dakota law defines abortion as terminating the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.”
“Finally, we are required to provide you with booklets printed by the state of ND. These booklets list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion and describe fetal development.” (Source: Red River Women’s Clinic)
I repeat, “Are you kidding me? I know my rights and I know what is best for my family and me. This is ridiculous!” (Additionally, enter string of obscenities I can’t print.)
In America, you cannot be forced to carry a pregnancy to term. You also have the right to bear arms in line with the 2nd Amendment. The common denominator here is that in both examples, a lot of people would tell the state to shove it because federal law is the law of the land and using state law to confuse people is irresponsible governance regardless of how strongly one believes in the cause.
But moving forward, let’s look at the actual demographics of women being harassed by these mandates. Not that any of this matters because the law is the law, but the RRWC provided procedures for 1264 women . The majority of these were for North Dakotans, but there were also Minnesotans, and South Dakotans. The majority were already raising children. Over a third of patients were over the age of 30. The same proportion had at least completed an associate’s degree with some completing advanced degrees. More than 120 patients were married and had opted not to have additional children in the marriage. Nearly 2/3 had had no previous procedures, so it’s not a stretch to extrapolate that abortion is not viewed as a go-to method of birth control.
I’ve got 14 months left until I hit the big 30, but I know a hell of a lot more than I did about myself and the world than I did ten years ago. I don’t think this required script is aimed me per se, because I am actively telling the state to shove it on this issue because I understand the politics behind it. I don’t have any kids, but I’m guessing that if I did, I’d be reasonably well equipped to understand I might not be in a position to have another. Assuming women don’t know what they are doing with their own bodies is condescending and insulting.
For younger (or really of any age) women with less access to information, this script can be misinterpreted and scary in addition to infuriating. Can I be retroactively prosecuted for murder? Am I violating state law? Why is the government giving me this other information if I’m not doing something illegal? Whom do I ask to figure this out that won’t tell anyone?
Calling a lawyer on a deeply personal matter during a time of crisis isn’t something women should be expected to do, but the underhanded obstacles thrown out by some legislators to prevent access to safe abortion services make the American Gladiators course look tame. Laws are meant clarify what is legal and illegal, not scare folks via confusion from engaging in legal activity because some legislators are on a crusade. Once again, it’s bad governance regardless of how strongly you may believe in the cause.
To people who want to shut down the RRWC and classify abortion as felony murder in ND, I’m going to simply ask you what your end game looks like. In reality, if those laws ever take effect, it’s going to send people with the necessary financial resources to Minnesota to have procedures done there. For those who can’t afford the trip, you’re going to see a nice black market for spring up. Then, when women go to hospitals for complications regarding miscarriages, is the state coroner’s office going to be there on the scene to investigate? Hmm… that might be one hard to fill state job that would actually deserve a ridiculous hiring bonus from the Governor’s office because it’s a ridiculous idea to enforce. For those who are past seven weeks when they see the positive test, expect to see an uptick in emergency room admissions for problems related to attempted abortions done by people who are not properly trained or regulated.
Prayer surely isn’t going to solve that. We’ll discuss the religious aspects to the abortion debate next week. Stay tuned for Part 2.
Author’s note: I am currently behind on my day job and won’t be engaging on the website this week. I don’t like dropping bombs and running, but reality is a factor here. Also, if anyone is interested in reading about my recent experience in mainland China (and why I won’t go back), you can find it here.