Stenehjem has good pro-life record

James Kerian


At the first gubernatorial debate in Bismarck on March 9th Wayne Stenehjem stated that he supports and would have signed each and every one of the pro life bills that were passed by the ND legislature in 2011 and 2013 and signed into law by Governor Dalrymple.

More important than Stenehjem’s pro life rhetoric, however, are the actions he has taken as attorney general in defense of these pro life bills. Critics will dismiss this as merely carrying out the duties of his office. But the truth is that the attorney general can always refuse to defend a law (or refuse to appeal a court decision against a law) and there was substantial pressure on Stenehjem (including a July 26 Fargo Forum Editorial) to do just that. Of the five bills that the Legislature passed, Dalrymple signed and Stenehjem defended, only one was ultimately struck down in court.

It should be tremendously encouraging to pro life North Dakotans that when Stenehjem had to choose between defending these pro life bills and endearing himself to the largest media company in the state he chose to do the right thing.

It is true that Paul Sorum has a consistent record of publicly speaking out for the right to life of about-to-be-born children. But it is also true that Paul Sorum is not going to be governor. If Sorum manages to persuade a handful of pro lifers to throw a protest vote his way and that leads to a Doug Burgum victory then Sorum will have done a tremendous disservice to the pro life movement.

Doug Burgum has spoken out aggressively against the right to life of about-to-be-born children and he has used nearly every pro abortion talking point that the left has developed in the last fifty years to advance his view. He has been clear that he would have vetoed the pro life bills that both the ND House and the ND Senate recently passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Again, only one of these bills was struck down in court. The remaining four are in place and saving lives but they would not be if Doug Burgum had been governor.