Jim Shaw: Measure designed to confuse as printed in the Fargo Forum

By Jim Shaw
As printed in the Fargo Forum September 21, 2014

It’s time to give my two cents on the most controversial item on the North Dakota ballot.

  • Measure No. 1 is poorly worded. It says, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” Backers say the intent is to ban abortions in the state. However, the wording of the measure appears to go far beyond unwanted pregnancies. The key words are,

“Life at any stage of development.” That sure sounds like it pertains to all of us, no matter how old we are. It could be interpreted as interfering with end-of-life health care decisions.

If the intent is to end abortions, the measure should have simply said, “Abortions will be illegal in North Dakota.” There’s no misunderstanding that.

Of course even if it passes, it faces a very uncertain future. It would likely head to the courts, cost North Dakota taxpayers lots of money, and lose. Based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the lower courts have allowed restrictions on abortions but not outright bans.