Chris Dodson: Heitkamp's Attack On Measure 1 Makes No Sense


Heidi Heitkamp’s last minute attempt to kill Measure 1 makes no sense.

The message and timing are not surprising.  As Rob has reported before, Heitkamp has received significant financial support from Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood has funded practically all of North Dakotans Against Measure 1’s campaign.  The campaign’s director is none other than a Planned Parenthood employee.

Contrary to Rob’s assessment, it is very possible that NDAM1 sensed that support for Measure 1 has been growing since the visit by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the announcement by over a hundred physicians and health care providers in support of the measure and pressured Heitkamp to speak out against it.

What does not make sense, however, are some of the claims in the letter.

First, Heitkamp states “It would prohibit a woman who was raped from terminating a pregnancy as a result of that rape” but then goes on to explain why it can’t ban any abortions. How can it prohibit a rape victim from having an abortion if it doesn’t ban abortions?  In the end, she appears to agree with ND Choose Life, not NDAM1, on that point. (For its part, NDAM1 can’t make up its mind on that question.)

Second, she accuses Measure 1’s supporters of judging Becky Matthews, the woman who appeared in NDAM1’s ad, for doing what “Becky and her husband . . . believed was best for their family.”  That claim is false for two reasons.  First, ND Choose Life never criticized Ms. Matthews.  It only criticized NDAM1 for misleading and politicizing her personal story.  Second, she didn’t have an abortion.  She had a miscarriage.  What could their possibly be to judge?  It looks as though Heitkamp never saw the advertisement.  It clearly states that she had a miscarriage.  Ms. Matthews’ own testimony before the legislature states that she and her husband chose not to have an abortion.  Even under the most grossly erroneous interpretations of Measure 1 it wouldn’t have stopped the Matthews from making the choice they made.

Finally, Heitkamp makes no attempt to explain why 125 years of case law holding that statements of general objectives like Measure 1 are not self-executing are suddenly not applicable to Measure 1.  During her tenure as the state’s attorney general there were at least a few cases and legal opinions that discussed that issue.  Did she forget them? Did she bother to read the white paper signed by 24 lawyers setting forth North Dakota’s clear case law on the question?  Maybe she disagreed with the analysis, but considering that the self-execution issue is the issue in the debate she should have at least attempted to address it if she expects North Dakota voters to listen to her because of her legal experience.

In the end, her letter comes across as nothing more than false and unsupportable talking points from Planned Parenthood’s front group, NDAM1.