James Kerian: Despite Recent Supreme Court Decision, North Dakota Pro-Life Laws Find Success


Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States denied Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s request that they review a lower court decision striking down HB 1456.  That law, passed with bi partisan support through the legislature and signed by Governor Dalrymple, would have prohibited elective abortion when the victim is so thoroughly developed that their heartbeat can detected.

Since this was the last of the state’s pro life laws to be reviewed in court it seems like an appropriate time to review their status.  When the four bills reached the governor’s desk in 2013 a Forum editorial demanded that Governor Dalrymple veto them proclaiming:

“They constitute a guarantee of lengthy court challenges that will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, and the state will certainly lose.”

The governor, instead, signed each of them and the result today is that, as Forum Communications reports: “Three of four 2013 abortion-related bills in effect.”

SB 2368 prohibited abortion past the 20th week of the child’s development.  SB 2305 required those who would perform abortions to first acquire emergency room admitting privileges.  HB 1305 prohibited abortions for the purpose of gender/disability discrimination.

Additionally, HB 1297 was passed during the 2011 session and upheld by the ND Supreme Court in October of 2014.  This law has effectively ended the dangerous long-distance medication abortions that the state’s lone abortion clinic had previously been offering.  The abortion clinic chose not to risk appealing the ND Supreme Court’s decision to the US Supreme Court so HB 1297, like the three bills listed above, is in full effect.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Both pro life leaders and the director of the state’s lone abortion clinic have agreed that it is because of these laws that the previously climbing abortion rate in North Dakota has been reversed. [/mks_pullquote]

Both pro life leaders and the director of the state’s lone abortion clinic have agreed that it is because of these laws that the previously climbing abortion rate in North Dakota has been reversed.  The 15% decrease means that hundreds of lives have been saved because of the efforts of pro life activists and legislators.  The more than 20 children still being killed at the Fargo abortuary each week means that our efforts must continue until all children have equal protection under the law.

What of the “millions of dollars” that the Forum editorial writers were so concerned about in 2013?  According to the Forum’s own reporting yesterday the total cost for the defense of all five bills above turned out to be $320,000.  So successfully defending four of the five bills and saving hundreds of lives has cost the state government less than 50 cents per North Dakotan over the past four years.  That’s about 0.001% of the budget over that time period.

Obviously the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday was a disappointment to pro life North Dakotans.  We knew with the current ideological makeup of the Supreme Court HB 1456 was always “a long shot” but we had hoped for the opportunity to provide children with a heartbeat equal protection under the law.  While acknowledging this disappointment we can move on to the next effort proud of the victories we have won and the lives we have saved.

Since we all know that the Forum’s concern over taxpayer expenditures was completely genuine we can even all be happy together that winning these victories and saving these lives didn’t cost anywhere near as much money as they told us it would.