Your Vote Matters: Personhood on the Ballot in North Dakota

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 11.05.08 AM

This November, North Dakota voters will decide whether or not to add a personhood amendment to their state’s constitution. Measure 1 on North Dakota’s ballot would amend the constitution to state,

The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.

The stakes are incredibly high for North Dakotans this election. Though personhood laws such as Measure 1 are currently unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, they will act as “trigger laws” if passed. That means that if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns Roe, these types of laws will be “triggered” and will result in an immediate ban on most forms of contraception and all abortions in the state overnight.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.26.46 AMIf Measure 1 becomes the law in North Dakota, the state’s only abortion provider, the Red River Valley Women’s Clinic, could be shuttered. Abortion could be banned even in cases of rape or incest or when a woman’s life is in danger. Most forms of birth control, such as the Pill, IUD and emergency contraception (wrongly categorized by politicians, not medical professionals, as abortifacients), could be outlawed. Doctors may be forced to cease and desist in-vitro fertilization treatments.

The amendment’s poor wording affects end-of-life care as well: If passed, Measure 1 could force courts to invalidate living wills and DNR agreements. Current life-support laws that allow individuals and their families to make their own decisions regarding what to do if they end up in a continuous vegetative state could become obsolete, and a hospital’s valuable resources might then have to go toward treating people who will not regain consciousness, regardless of what those people wanted for their treatment plans.

Student organizers with the Feminist Majority Foundation are organizing on college campuses in North Dakota, mobilizing voters against the proposed amendment by drawing attention to its horrific consequences. The campaign against Measure 1 has garnered support from students across the state who see the amendment for what it is: a flagrant attack on their human rights.

“Why should we, as North Dakota voters, say no to a personhood amendment? It’s simple. In voting no, we say yes to the continued accessibility of contraceptives, preventive care for women and to the accessibility of safe abortions,” declares Kate Black, a student and campus organizer at the University of North Dakota, Fargo. “We say yes to women’s rights.”

Voting in North Dakota has become easier for students over the last several years. Registering to vote is not required, and though you do have to show an ID at your polling location, students can request a certificate from their college or university to act as identification for voting purposes. You can look up your nearest polling place by entering your zip code here.

Don’t let North Dakota be the first to pass a personhood amendment in the United States. Stand up for North Dakota women and vote NO on Measure 1 this Nov. 4!

No on 1 photo from Feminist Majority Foundation campaign flyer. Photo of Vote No on 1 campaign efforts courtesy of Kate Black.






Rachel Kassenbrock is a writer who works at the Feminist Majority Foundation and blogs for Ms. Follow her on Twitter at @rkassenbrock.