Jo Bogner: Impacts Of Measure 1 Are Being Exaggerated


Opponents of Measure 1 say that by providing that our constitutional right to life be recognized and protected at any stage of development will result in all kinds of bad things.

No more IVF treatments. No more protections at end of life. Women will be prosecuted if they have a miscarriage, and we will have a cradle to grave welfare state to provide for every need to protect life.

None of these things are true, but they keep saying them anyway.

Watching the debate in Fargo about whether to allow chickens within city limits got me thinking. I realized it provides a great analogy to lay bare the absurdity of the claims being made by opponents of Measure 1.

Article XI, Section 29 of the North Dakota constitution states: The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.

If we employ the same scare tactics to this constitutional provision that are being used against Measure 1:

  • Every resident of the state has a right to farm or ranch, anywhere and by any method.  Sorry, City of Fargo, you must allow those chickens.
  • The state would have to make sure that no chicken farmer, including the city chicken farmer, ever goes bankrupt.  After all, their right to farm must be “guaranteed” by the state.
  • Can’t meet the terms of the bank’s loan agreement? That’s okay, the state will — make that “shall” — step in and pay it for you. Cost of feed too high?  The state will provide it.
  • Don’t want to keep chickens anymore?  You don’t have a choice.  A local state’s attorney could take you to court and make sure that you raise those chickens against your wishes.
  • If you have a sick chicken and want nature to take its course without invasive treatment by artificial means such as antibiotics, you won’t have any choice in the matter. A veterinarian will be forced to provide whatever treatment is possible to treat the chicken no matter your wishes and regardless of cost. The taxpayers will pick up the tab.
  • A family member could sue you in court to make you keep raising chickens.
  • The courts will be flooded with litigation and lawyers will make millions.  Nothing to cluck at.

Now doesn’t that “right to farm” provision in our state constitution sound pretty scary? But let’s take a step back. North Dakotans approved the “right to farm” in 2012.  Why hasn’t any of this happened?

The claims about Measure 1 won’t happen either.