For the first time in United States history, a legislative body has approved a personhood amendment in both the House and the Senate. Now the amendment will be referred to the people of North Dakota for a vote. SCR 4009 was written as to ensure that mother and baby are both treated as medical patients, that medical care is not inhibited, and that fertility treatments are not banned.
Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA said "This amendment strikes the balance of accomplishing more for the unborn than any other amendment the nation has ever seen, while protecting pregnant women and their right to true medical care. We applaud the North Dakota House and Senate for their willingness to protect all of the people in their state." Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D., legal analyst for Personhood USA, continued: "The North Dakota personhood amendment takes the pro-life plank of the GOP platform and it into practice. Furthermore, it allows the legislature the needed flexibility to implement the specific protections of the right to life through future legislation." Full story can be found here.
Chief of Medicine and CMDA Member Jeffrey Newswanger, DO: "North Dakota lawmakers are leading the way in a campaign to make their state the first in the Union to constitutionally guarantee 'the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development.' Obviously this is a contentious issue, even in conservative North Dakota. By using the politically charged phrase 'right to life,' they may well have touched a nerve among some liberals, heating the debate even further. By necessity, the amendment leaves many questions unaddressed, most notably the definition of when human life begins.
"However, the drafters of the bill have done one thing very well. Although characterized by some as a 'personhood law,' the amendment skirts the entire personhood argument by simply focusing on protecting that which is human. Too much time and energy has been wasted arguing over what constitutes a 'person.' The argument is complicated by the fact that the term 'personhood' is used to mean wholly different things by lawyers, philosophers and the laity. The concept of personhood begs a definition based on function and abilities. Personhood arguments, therefore, open the door to admit non-humans while at the same time cutting off some humans from full participation in their birth-right as a member of the species. As Christians, we do not value human life because of what it can do, but because of the One whose image it bears. All human life, no matter how damaged, bears some remnant of its Maker's artistry. Therefore, we need to avoid surrogate arguments such as personhood and focus on preserving in our culture a sense of honor for that which is human.
CMDA Ethics Statement: Abortion
CMDA Ethics Statement: Human Life Its Moral Worth