The North Dakota House today had lengthy debate on four anti-abortion bills with originated in the Senate. This is “landmark legislation,” as Rep. Robin Weisz noted during the floor debate. “No state has made a statement like we’ve made today.”
Here’s what got votes:
SB2305 – Introduced by Senator Spencer Berry, this bill would require that any doctor performing an abortion have hospital admitting privileges. Right now the doctors that practice at the state’s only abortion clinic are all from out of state, so the intent of this law is pretty clear. It passed on a 58-34 vote.
SB2368 – Introduced by Senator Joe Miller, this bill would define personhood as beginning at conception. It was amended yesterday in the House to include a prohibition on state funding for any partnership or contract with anyone or any organization promoting abortion (that aimed at the NDSU/Planned Parenthood partnership). This bill passed with a 60-32 vote.
SCR4009 – Introduced by Senator Margaret Sitte, this constitutional amendment would add a single line to the state constitution defining human life as existing at every stage of development. This passed on a 57-35 votes.
SB2303 – Introduced by Senator Oley Larsen, this legislation would have defined human life as existing at all stages of human development in the state’s criminal code. It also would have expanded Medicaid to cover all pregnant women. It failed, though, on 43-49 vote.
I was surprised Senator Larsen’s bill failed. It was divided setting the anti-abortion portions out separate from the expansion of Medicaid for pregnant women, and both divisions passed but then the entire bill failed.
Still, a small set-back for the pro-life cause given that the state has now voted to prohibit abortions for gender selection, prohibit abortion because of defects like Downs Syndrome, prohibit abortion if a heartbeat is detected and to put before voters a constitutional definition of human life existing at all stages of development.
The question is, how many of these bills will be signed by Governor Jack Dalrymple? Pro-life legislators tell me they have assurances from the executive branch that he will sign them and that he’s merely going about it in a low-key way. I’m not sure I get the thinking in that tactic. Seems to me that prolonging the uncertainty of a veto only serves to prolong the debate.
I’ve written before that my gut feeling is that Governor Dalrymple is going to veto at least some of these pro-life bills (and, by extension, set off a civil war in the NDGOP). The political choice, it seems to me, is between signing the bills into law and costing some Red River Valley Republicans their seats in the legislature, or vetoing the bills and costing the NDGOP one or both of its majorities in the legislature.
Such is the price of governing more conservatively.