We’ve written about the anti-choice movement’s new focus on “personhood” as it attempts to find new tactics to outlaw reproductive choice a few times in the past, mostly to note that efforts to date have not been particularly impressive considering that it was wiped out at the polls in Colorado last November.
But that doesn’t mean they are giving up. Recently, Personhood USA announced that “seven different states have started efforts for the personhood of pre-born children. In addition, Rep. Duncan Hunter has introduced H.R. 881, the Right to Life Act , on the federal level, propelling the personhood movement forward.”
Now, RH Reality Check reports that the North Dakota House just passed such a measure yesterday:
On Tuesday, one body of North Dakota’s state legislature voted, 51-41, not only to ban abortion, but to define life as beginning at conception. Such a measure, considered extreme even by pro-life standards, would have far-reaching consequences on women’s health.
State Rep. Dan Ruby introduced the legislation, which declares that “for purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens.”
“It was at the bottom of the calendar and we didn’t expect [the House] to get to it, so it caught us a little bit by surprise,” said Tim Stanley, senior director of government and public affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “This bill dangerous, far reaching, and allows government — not women and families — to make critical decisions about health care.” Some state legislators have been quoted saying the intent of the measure is not to ban abortion outright. However, many legal experts agree that defining life as beginning at conception would affect access to birth control and emergency contraception as well as affect in vitro fertilization. “I’m not sure if this is naivete or if this is sincere,” Stanley said. “The bottom line is that our attorneys have looked at this and are extremely concerned.”
OneNewsNow asked one of the activists who is pushing this personhood effort, Cal Zastrow of Michigan Citizens for Life, why they are focusing on this issue considering that it lost so badly in Colorado, and he says it is because they will not quit until abortion is outlawed:
“Because it raises the pro-life tide and it gets the vision to not quit until every baby is protected by law and love,” he contends. “And you’re right, we didn’t win the World Series every time we swung the bat — but we’re going to keep swinging the bat and keep going until we have won the World Series.”
Of course, a more accurate explanation is probably the one Katy Walker of the American Life League gave last year when she admitted that “the idea of personhood in this movement is really the only thing, the only option left to us.”