False Claim #1: Measure One would not affect end of life directives, living wills, nor Do Not Resuscitate orders– it just keeps all our laws as they are and doesn’t change anything.
Truth #1: The intent of the legislation: Sen. Margaret Sitte, the amendment’s primary sponsor, addresses the question of end-of-life in testimony in Jan. 2013. She testified that “SCR 4009 is important to protect not only the unborn but people in every condition of life. …When people talk about the costs of health care for the elderly or for Alzheimer’s patients, we see the need to protect human beings at any stage of development. It isn’t enough to say we recognize the right to life of every human being at any stage of development. We must also defend that life from whomever or whatever is threatening it.” Source: ND Legislative Testimony: page 20-21
AARP provided testimony at the North Dakota legislature in opposition to this measure and expressed serious concerns about how end-of-life decisions could be affected. Testimony from AARP against Measure 1, then titled SCR 4009, reads, ‘Adding the proposed language in SCR 4009 into the state constitution raises concerns about the impact of end-of-life decisions and that is why we oppose SCR 4009’. (Full testimony available below.)
The 2014 AARP voter guide reiterates that concern, stating: ‘during the legislative session we expressed concerns in testimony to the Legislature about the impact on personal and family decisions around end-of-life care. Specifically, it is unclear how the measure could impact “Do Not Resuscitate”.’ (Voter Guide also available below.)
Leading legal experts, faith leaders and health care professionals agree that making a permanent, sweeping change to the state constitution affects laws. The vague language of the measure leaves it open to interpretation by the courts; no other state in the country has added an amendment like Measure 1 to their constitutions thus the impacts are unclear and the outcomes untested.
UPDATE: On Sept. 30, the AARP released this statement after ND Choose Life ran newspaper ads that referenced AARP. AARP’s statement pointed out that “it is inappropriate for the proponents of Measure 1 to use the state president’s affiliation with AARP in their ad” and reiterated that “the voter guide reflected the same concern we expressed in written testimony provided to the legislature during the 2013 legislative session. The concern we expressed to legislators during the session focused on the impact the resolution could have on end-of-life care.”
Download this handy guide to North Dakota’s November ballot measures from AARP North Dakota
AARP Voter Guide (PDF)