N.D. Senate tables abortion billA bill attempting to outlaw abortion in North Dakota with few exceptions did not pass the state Senate on Thursday but created drama throughout the day.
By: Teri Finneman, Forum Communications
BISMARCK – A bill attempting to outlaw abortion in North Dakota with few exceptions did not pass the state Senate on Thursday but created drama throughout the day.
House Bill 1450 applied the term “human being” to every stage of development. The bill sought to add abortion language to the chapter in state law addressing homicide and assault, said Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg.
Some were concerned the bill did not have exceptions for in vitro fertilization and life-saving medical treatment, although bill supporters made it clear it wasn’t their intent to prohibit them, he said.
The Senate considered amendments to clarify these exceptions, as well as add an exception for victims of rape or incest.
Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, gave emotional testimony urging senators not to add the exception for rape and incest. Whether someone is conceived by rape, incest or love does not determine the value of that individual, she said.
“Life has value, no matter how it begins,” she said.
She quoted the Declaration of Independence, saying all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. She also cited the 10 Commandments and “thou shall not kill.”
If the exception remains in the bill, the abortion clinic in Fargo will remain open, Sitte said.
Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, said Sitte argued that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the right of a fertilized egg.
“But there was no conversation about the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness on the part of the woman who’s subjected to rape or incest,” she said.
She urged senators to keep the exception in the bill.
In a rare legislative move, senators tabled the matter. They approved a procedure that means the bill cannot be voted on unless it’s brought back for consideration by a two-thirds majority of the chamber.
Without a vote by the end of the session, the bill does not have a chance to become law.
Late in the day, Sen. Joe Miller, R-Park River, tried to revive the bill but failed to reach the 32 votes needed. The vote was 26-21.
The Senate did approve an amended version of another abortion-related bill on Thursday. House Bill 1297 does not ban abortion, but puts extra regulations around it.
The bill passed on a 42-5 vote and will now return to the House for review.
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.