Harry Wood: Why You Can Vote "Yes" With Confidence On Measure 1


Measure 1 puts a necessary right to life in our state constitution which does not currently exist.  It is important that we have an amendment on equal standing with our ND constitutional liberty clause to protect life and prevent judges alone from further establishing abortion rights in North Dakota.

We know that future ND legislation cannot restrict ND abortion rights beyond the federal standards set by Roe v Wade, which provides broad abortion rights through the first ~20 weeks of pregnancy.

Measure 1 *must* be written in broad language to ensure that it is not self-executing. As written, it requires future laws to be passed by a majority of our state legislators and signed by our governor before it does anything. This broad language prevents the courts from acting autonomously. It is the constitutional backing for existing and future legislation.

I don’t foresee a majority of our state legislators voting: to outlaw IVF, to remove the ability to control one’s own end-of-life care, or to criminally charge physicians for dealing with complicated mother’s life pregnancy issues. These legislative scenarios are just not plausible.

There are many lawyers, legal experts, physicians, and other North Dakotans that agree with the above ideas; however, our newspapers are electing to hold back these letters and columns. You’ll also notice that none of the Measure 1 opponents have laid out a single scenario by which a physician could be convicted if Measure 1 passes. If so many of these phantom scenarios “could” happen, why haven’t we been given a single concrete example by which someone would actually be convicted?

Finally, here is why Measure 1 is critically important: ND Supreme Court justices recently voted 3 to 2 on a single case which would have included Judge Corwin’s ruling that the North Dakota Constitution has a right to abortion through the liberty clause. This would have undermined many of North Dakota’s current abortion restrictions because it would have become a precedent for future cases. However, the 3 to 2 vote was not enough to piggyback this ruling into case law as North Dakota requires a 4 justice supermajority to declare a law unconstitutional.

Conclusion: Adding a constitutional amendment to limit our existing liberty clause is necessary to ensure that our current restrictions on abortion are protected from future rulings by judges like Corwin. Measure 1 was intentionally crafted to be non-self-executing to ensure that there are no judicial side effects and that its execution is in the hands of our locally elected legislators and not the courts.