State Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, letter: Bill set N.D. up for expensive failureMany proponents stated that the purpose of the bill was to challenge Roe v. Wade. The coalition that brought the bill forward included out-of-state extremists who have been working unsuccessfully for years in many states to pass similar legislation. They want to challenge Roe v. Wade and put the taxpayers of North Dakota on the hook for footing the bill.
By: Curtis Olafson,
EDINBURG, N.D. — I am writing in response to James Kerian’s letter regarding House Bill 1450, the bill commonly known as the “personhood bill” (“Senate embarrasses itself and North Dakota,” Page A4, April 16).
HB 1450 proposed new language to the Century Code chapters on homicide and assault.
I am pro-life, but I must consider how legislation affects other areas of law and not blindly support legislation just because it is labeled “pro-life.”
Many proponents stated that the purpose of the bill was to challenge Roe v. Wade. The coalition that brought the bill forward included out-of-state extremists who have been working unsuccessfully for years in many states to pass similar legislation. They want to challenge Roe v. Wade and put the taxpayers of North Dakota on the hook for footing the bill.
I consulted at least 15 attorneys, including several prosecutors, who said HB 1450 never would withstand a constitutional challenge, and North Dakota taxpayers would spend a lot of money on legal fees in a series of court battles that we would lose.
Unfortunately, HB 1450 was poorly written, and when it came to the Senate, it had contradictory and conflicting language that many thought posed a threat to in vitro fertilization and life-saving treatment of pregnancy complications.
It was written with no exceptions for rape and incest.
Two separate sources informed me that out-of-state, pro-choice interests already had made multiple contacts with North Dakota citizens seeking plaintiffs for legal action if the bill had passed.
House Bill 1450 was not needed because legislation to ban abortion in North Dakota already is on the books. For example, House Bill 1466 was passed during the 2007 session and would ban abortion if the attorney general certifies that the legal environment has changed and the ban would be upheld as constitutional. I voted for HB 1466 in 2007.
Many members of the North Dakota Senate felt threatened and intimidated by some supporters of 1450.
Some supporters will not accept the fact that many of us who are pro-life do not see the issue in extreme black-and-white terms as they do.
We were told that if we didn’t fall into lockstep agreement with them, our votes would be scored and used against us in the next election.
I can think of no other issue wherein such threats and intimidation are used in the Legislature.
I have been encouraging the coalition of supporters of 1450 to use the initiated measure process to put the issue on the ballot. I have yet to hear any of them say they intend to do so, even though they repeatedly claim that the majority of North Dakotans support the legislation.
If that is true, then it will be no problem for them to collect the needed signatures, and they should have no valid reason to fear putting the issue to a vote of the people.
State Sen. Olafson, a Republican, represents District 10 in the North Dakota Senate.