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Stenehjem should refuse to appeal decision on state's abortion law

April 17, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
It will be a real pity if State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem decides to throw more money down the rat-hole to defend North Dakota's unconstitutional abortion law.

The misguided law passed by the state legislature in 2013 would have banned most abortions in the state after six weeks, after which a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It was one of several anti-abortion laws passed by the legislature, most of which are probably also unconstitutional and most of which are costing the state a lot of money to defend.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland struck down the latest law this week. "The controversy over a woman's right to choose to have an abortion will never end. The issue is undoubtedly one of the most divisive of social issues. The United States Supreme Court will eventually weigh in on this emotionally-fraught issue but, until that occurs, this Court is obligated to uphold existing Supreme Court precedent," wrote Hovland. Stenehjem's office is apparently still deciding whether to appeal, even though he acknowledged that Hovland's ruling was hardly unexpected.

Mind you, it's not that I approve of abortion or that it would break my heart if more restrictions were placed upon the practice, though you will never find me outside an abortion clinic protesting.

I think banning abortion outright would be a mistake. There are circumstances under which abortion is necessary though regrettable, such as when the procedure saves the life or mental or physical health of the mother. It's neither fair nor moral to expect a woman to sacrifice her life or her sanity by carrying a dangerous pregnancy to term. Our country's laws allow for killing in self defense; that is why I find abortion for those reasons morally justifiable. Banning abortion after the sixth week would essentially ban all abortions in the state, including those that need to be done to preserve the life or health of the mother.

From a practical standpoint, this sort of ban before the point of viability is flatly unconstitutional. Everyone probably knows it, too, from Stenehjem to Governor Dalrymple to the state senators and representatives who voted for the legislation. Still, the Legislature insists on wasting money on a hopeless cause. They would do more good by investing those dollars into programs that would help women and children with housing and child care and by investing in social service programs that can help families in crisis. Many abortions could probably be prevented if more women could afford to raise their children or if they had more places to turn when their families are in trouble. I want our leaders to spend our money more productively.

Stenehjem should refuse to appeal this decision.


Article Comments



Apr-17-14 8:09 PM

When it comes to the law, he certainly is.


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