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Shame on North Dakota Legislature

March 18, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
North Dakota legislators chose last week to throw taxpayer money down the rat hole to defend likely unconstitutional legislation that severely restricts abortion.

If the governor signs it, the legislation essentially bans all abortions performed after six weeks gestation, before many women know they are pregnant, or whenever a fetal heartbeat can be detected as well as all abortions performed due to gender selection or due to a genetic defect, such as Down Syndrome. If signed into law, the legislation would give North Dakota the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

Not that they will ever be enforced. I predict that a lawyer for the Fargo Women's Clinic will be in court seeking an injunction on the day that Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs that bill and it will be easily granted.

Even most of the legislators who voted "yes" on this legislation knew darned well that what they want to do is unconstitutional. Some of the wiser among them probably also know that the best way to prevent abortions is not to outlaw them. A comprehensive sex education program, including information about birth control, where to obtain it and how to use it, beginning in middle school, might be a good start. The most effective sex education programs do not teach abstinence only; they teach that abstinence is the best choice for young people but recognize that some teens are going to have sex and need to know how to protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy. Depressingly, North Dakota mandates that sex education programs emphasize abstinence, despite the fact that statistics show that many North Dakota teenagers are sexually active by the time they graduate from high school.

A stronger social safety net would undoubtedly help women who are unexpectedly pregnant. Rental assistance and child care assistance might make the difference for a young mother who is weighing the cost of raising another child on a limited income. It might not prevent all abortions, but it would prevent a significant number of them, since financial difficulties are among the reasons women give for having abortions.

I, like the legislators, would like to see fewer abortions, but I am frustrated by their wrongheaded approach to this goal. The total cost of defending these misguided proposed laws can't be estimated, but it's fair to say that lawyers on both sides will be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of all those billable hours and a possible trip to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawyers are the only ones who win here. The winners certainly aren't going to be North Dakota taxpayers. I am ashamed of our legislators. Gov. Jack Dalrymple should refuse to sign these bills into law.


Article Comments



Apr-05-13 8:01 AM

The government does not tell Religion what to do and Religion does not tell the government what to do is the separation we always speak of. This may very well be the only country like this.


Mar-25-13 2:37 PM

angeR69 Mar-24-13 12:16 AM

Excellent post. Who knows if ND will be the state to contribute toward the first option? Perhaps our state has been set up "for such a time as this."


Mar-25-13 7:51 AM

Figure. wasn't it back in the 1850's that Darwin told the government we were just animals and were happiest when we were kept busy. God says don't kill and the government will kill you if you don't kill for them. That is a separation.


Mar-24-13 8:50 PM

People who are so*****bent on passing some type of abortion-related legislation that they ignore all logic and evidence that it will not be enforced and other methods have a better chance at actually reducing abortions. They are, indeed, fanatics.


Mar-24-13 8:26 PM

Please, what is your definition of a fanatic? Who's the fanatic here?


Mar-24-13 5:13 PM

Yes, to put it bluntly, I think the people who voted for this have been foolish and it annoys me that they refuse to fund programs that stand a better chance of limiting abortion than what they are trying to do. I don't care over much for fanatics.


Mar-24-13 3:51 PM

It then remained silent for the next 70 years until 1947, when, in Everson v. Board of Education, the Court, for the first time, did not cite Jefferson’s entire letter, but selected only eight words from it. The Court now announced:

"The First Amendment has erected ‘a wall of separation between church and state.’ That wall must be kept high and impregnable."

This was a new philosophy for the Court. Why would the Court take Jefferson’s letter completely out of context and cite only eight of its words? Dr. William James, the Father of modern Psychology—and a strong opponent of religious principles in government and education—perhaps explained the Court’s new strategy when he stated:

"There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough people will believe it."


Mar-24-13 3:50 PM

During the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, yet another group which challenged specific Christian principles in government arrived before the Supreme Court. Jefferson’s letter had remained unused for years, for as time had progressed after its use in 1802—and after no national denomination had been established—his letter had fallen into obscurity. But now—75 years later—in the case Reynolds v. United States, the plaintiffs resurrected Jefferson’s letter, hope to use it to their advantage.

In that case, the Court printed an lengthy segment of Jefferson’s letter and then used his letter on "separation of church and state" to again prove that it was permissible to maintain Christian values, principles, and practices in official policy. For the next 15 years during that legal controversy, the Supreme Court utilized Jefferson’s letter to ensure that Christian principles remained a part of government.


Mar-24-13 3:49 PM

For example, in 1853, a group petitioned Congress to separate Christian principles from government. They desired a so-called "separation of church and state" with chaplains being turned out of the congress, the military, etc. Their petition was referred to the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees, which investigated for almost a year to see if it would be possible to separate Christian principles from government.

Both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees returned with their reports. The following are excerpts from the House report delivered on Mary 27, 1854 (the Senate report was very similar):

"Had the people [the Founding Fathers], during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, but not any one sect [denomination]…. In this


Mar-24-13 3:45 PM

In 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, heard a rumor that the Congregationalist denomination was about to be made the national denomination. That rumor distressed the Danbury Baptists, as it should have. Consequently, the fired off a litter to President Thomas Jefferson voicing their concern. On January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote the Danbury Baptists, assuring them that "the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state."In 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, heard a rumor that the Congregationalist denomination was about to be made the national denomination. That rumor distressed the Danbury Baptists, as it should have. Consequently, the fired off a litter to President Thomas Jefferson voicing their concern. On January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote the Danbury Baptists, assuring them that "the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state."In 1801, the Danbury Ba


Mar-24-13 3:44 PM

As far as the seperation of church and state. Where in the constitution is it written that there is a seperation of church and state? Find it for me please? Just because a progressively liberal Supreme Court ruled on a letter written by a president to a church doesn't make it what was intended by our founding fathers.


Mar-24-13 3:37 PM

Continued..blessings he has granted us, the General directs that the Army remain in its present quarters and that the Chaplains perform divine services with their several corps and brigades, and earnestly exhorts all officers and soldiers whose absence is not indispensably necessary, to amend with reverence the solemnities of the day.


Mar-24-13 3:35 PM

On 18 April 1783, eight years to the day from the beginning of hostilities at Lexington, Washington ordered a cessation of the fighting. Along with his stipulation for the reading of the proclamation, he requested that, ". . . the chaplains with the several brigades... render thanks to Almighty God for his mercies, particularly for his over-ruling the wrath of man to his own glory and causing the rage of war to cease amongst the nations. "...Giving thanks to God for his mercies and over-ruling the rath of man. Giving thanks for devine intervention. Doesn't sound like a Deist to me. Another qoute..Following the grueling campaign of 1777, when the battle-weary troops were on their march to Valley Forge, Washington issued orders for the observance of a day of thanksgiving:

Tomorrow being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgment to God for the manifold blessings he has gr


Mar-24-13 3:30 PM

I was out of town for a few days but now I will get on point. Only a handful of our founding fathers are claimed to be Deists and of those most are speculation. George Washington is claimed to have been a Deist. A few qoutes from George..


Mar-24-13 12:16 AM

Andrea, there are some things worth fighting for. For us, this is one of those things. This may be a fool's errand, but sometimes the fool wins the day.

So put yourself in our position for a moment. Do we just give up?

There are two ways to end legally-sanctioned abortion as practiced in the US today. The first is to directly challenge the court decision(s) that made it legal. (Roe v. Wade wasn't the only case). So we legislate our conscience, and we do so fully aware of all the legal roadblocks ahead. We are not the first state to attempt this, but we are possibly in a much better position to weather the battles ahead.

The second way to end legal abortion would be to establish a Constitutional Amendment that specifically identifies and protects the life of the unborn.

So I ask you now, which of these is more achievable? (That doesn't mean we'll rule out either route)


Mar-22-13 10:38 AM

A fair number of the Founding Fathers probably were probably closer to Deists, not that any of this is particularly relevant. Separation of church and state is one of the guiding principles of this country and it exists equally to protect churches from the interference of the state.


Mar-21-13 7:05 PM

And you say that religous beliefs should play no part in writing law? I don't think our forefathers shared the same view.


Mar-21-13 6:58 PM

Declaration of Independence

Religious Affiliation # of signers % of signers

Episcopalian/Anglican 32 57.1%

Congregationalist 13 23.2%

Presbyterian 12 21.4%

Quaker 2 3.6%

Unitarian or Universalist 2 3.6%

Catholic 1 1.8%

TOTAL 56 100%


Mar-21-13 6:52 PM

James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice, "Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other."

John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798 warned his fellow countrymen stating, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams George Washington, General of the Revolutionary Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, First President of the United States of America, Father of our nation, " Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society."


Mar-21-13 6:50 PM

Once again you are wrong!Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary said, "[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence."

John Jay, Original Chief-Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court , "The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts."


Mar-21-13 11:21 AM

My personal religious beliefs and yours or anyone else's do not determine what the law ought to be. This isn't a theocracy.


Mar-20-13 11:07 PM

*Continued legislate with respect to this matter. I am all for abortion if there is rape, incest, any other forced pregnancy upon the woman and if the health of the mother is in jeopardy. My conscience tells me that I should not be ok with abortion as a means of birth control or as a means of genetic selection, ie. We wanted a boy but are pregnant with a girl. We want blue eyes not brown. Uh oh! Is that a cleft palate? I cannot in good conscience let the most innocent be killed because mommy or daddy would be to ashamed to have a Downs baby. I totally agree these laws will be knocked down faster than a kids Lego set. Just like these laws won't stop abortion. Teens will get drunk and have unprotected sex. Couples will have babies that aren't exactly what they wanted and the list can go on. Sex in mainstream media is EVERYWHERE! We can sex ed. till we run out of ******s and bananas. As long as sex is pushed down our throats 24/7 I don't see a change. Good night


Mar-20-13 10:51 PM

And as far as the contitution and the right to privacy. To reach its result, the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment. As early as 1821, the first state law dealing directly with abortion was enacted by the Connecticut Legislature. By the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, there were at least 36 laws enacted by state or territorial legislatures limiting abortion. While many States have amended or updated their laws, 21 of the laws on the books in 1868 remain in effect today.[37][38][39] From this historical record, Rehnquist concluded that, "There apparently was no question concerning the validity of this provision or of any of the other state statutes when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted." Therefore, in his view, "the drafters did not intend to have the Fourteenth Amendment withdraw from the States the power to legisla


Mar-20-13 10:46 PM

Good to see that you cherry pick your catholic belief system. You are pro abortion, pro prostitution, anti death penalty and you only choose to follow the teachings of the church that tailor to YOUR personal, moral compass. Once again, you could care less about the constitutional law in this matter as much as you do your conscience. You think it is a sin and yet you are for it? I'm sure by the same account you think prostitution is a sin and you are for that. If we all just follow our conscience then what good is the church?


Mar-20-13 4:09 PM

And, just for the record, I vehemently oppose the death penalty and am deeply ashamed that my country practices it. Most civilized nations do not.


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