The Fargo Forum called Measure 1 “the most purposefully ambiguous measure ever on a North Dakota ballot … an invitation to endless litigation” and would allow for needless government intrusion into some of our most personal medical decisions. While I agree with the Forum’s assessment, it left out the fact that this law is one of the most extreme attempts at regulating a lifetime of difficult decisions.
Supporters of this measure believe in government intervention in the most personal of all human decisions. Measure 1 will mandate in very strict terms how, and if, North Dakotans get pregnant, how we care for our children, how we care for our elderly or sick family members, and what services can be provided to support all of these stages of our lives. It would prohibit a woman who was raped from terminating a pregnancy as a result of that rape. Under Measure 1, the government — not families or medical professionals — would make all of these decisions for us.
When a law is so extreme as to blatantly violate settled federal constitutional precedent, it is not defensible. When I served as North Dakota’s Attorney General in the 1990s, I successfully defended state laws that placed additional requirements on the interaction between medical professionals and women and families when they are looking to make incredibly personal and tough choices. While defending controversial laws is never an easy task, I was able to win that case because I could make a legitimate argument, grounded in a strong legal basis to defend these laws and the government’s interest in intervention. Measure 1 is so extreme in its breadth and scope that it does not come close to meeting that threshold.
Opponents of Measure 1, including many doctors and medical professionals across the state, have rightfully criticized this measure for invading North Dakotans’ privacy, limiting doctors from doing their jobs to best support their patients’ lives, and discouraging good physicians and nurses from working in our state.
Do not be fooled, supporters of Measure 1 seek to use the power of the government to control the most personal of all decisions. If you doubt that, look at how they have treated Becky Matthews. Becky recently spoke publicly about a very difficult and personal decision that she and her husband made. Becky and her husband did what they believed was best for their family – a choice Measure 1 would strip away. Rather than sympathize with this couple, the proponents of Measure 1 criticize and judge. I believe that criticism demonstrates first hand that the supporters of Measure 1 seek to impose their personal judgment on others and will too easily discount the nuances and heartache that come with such decisions.
To truly protect the lives of our families and those around us, we need to make sure all North Dakotans have the right to do what is best for them and their loved ones. Measure 1 would permanently take these decisions out of the hands of North Dakotans, and replace them with the opinions of the government. My great hope is that on Election Day the voters of this state will not let that happen.