Meaure 1 could ban abortions, emergency contraceptives for rape victims, victims advocacy groups say

As published in the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald and Jamestown Sun on 11/1/14

by Grace Lyden

BISMARCK – Two administrators with statewide victim advocacy groups said Friday afternoon that Measure 1 could ban abortions and emergency contraceptives for victims of rape and incest.

So many victims want that decision-making power after a sexual assault,” Linda Isakson, assistant director of the North Dakota Council on Abused Women Services, said in a teleconference.

By denying them that right, Isakson said, “We further traumatize somebody who’s already been traumatized.”

In 2013, rape crisis centers in North Dakota served 900 people, Isakson said. The risk of pregnancy from sexual assault is 2 to 5 percent.

Renee Stromme, executive director of the North Dakota Women’s Network, also spoke on the teleconference.

“When a woman and her unborn child have equal rights in the eyes of the law, this presents a conflict,” she said. “If only one life could survive, the state would have to decide whether the mother or the child would die.”

Stromme said Measure 1 would violate the state constitution because women would lose the ability to make their own health care decisions.

Supporters of Measure 1 refute the statement that it would ban all abortions.

“That’s a blatant misrepresentation, I dare say lie,” said Jo Bogner, who is on the executive committee for North Dakota Choose Life. “This is the one thing that we agree on, the two campaigns, that it does not and cannot ban abortion.”

As long as Roe v. Wade stands, that will be the case, Bogner said.

Her group’s interpretation is that Measure 1 would preserve the laws already on the books and stop “the abortion industry from striking down laws so that there is a virtually unrestricted right to an abortion,” Bogner said.