North Dakota lawmakers recently passed the worst abortion ban in the nation, outlawing the legal medical procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, and are currently advancing an even more stringent “personhood” restriction to ban all abortion services altogether. But not all of the state’s legislators support North Dakota’s recent shift toward a far-right anti-abortion agenda. Spearheaded by state Rep. Kathy Hawken (R), a group a Republican politicians are speaking out against the new affronts to women’s reproductive rights.
Hawken and her fellow GOP lawmakers think their party has “stepped over the line” with the new restrictions, and will join a “Stand Up for Women” rally on Monday to raise their voices in opposition. As Hawken explained to the Huffington Post, she believes the new bans are too extreme, and simply distract lawmakers from the real legislative priorities they ought to be tackling in North Dakota:
“It’s to say, hey, this isn’t okay. We have stepped over the line,” said state Rep. Kathy Hawken (R-Fargo) in a phone interview with The Huffington Post. “One of the key tenets of the Republican Party is personal responsibility. I’m personally pro-life, but I vote pro-choice, because you can’t make that decision for anyone else. You just can’t.” […]
Hawken said the personhood bills are so extreme that she and approximately 10 of her Republican colleagues in the state legislature — both men and women — were inspired to speak out in defense of women’s rights.
“North Dakota hasn’t even passed a primary seatbelt law, but we have the most invasive attack on womens health anywhere,” she said. “I got a letter yesterday from a pharmacist who said, ‘We don’t want to be in jail because we prescribed something!’ We’re spending an inordinate amount of time on social or personal issues, however you want to put it, but we haven’t done anything on property tax relief, higher education funding, fixing the roads. There are all kinds of other things we need to be doing besides this.”
Now that the 2012 elections have passed, anti-abortion groups have been pressuring Republicans to focus on advancing their agenda in the new legislative session. GOP lawmakers have complied in states like North Dakota, Arkansas, and Kansas — but as Hawken and her colleagues reveal, the legislation that’s cropping up this year is going too far even for some members of the Republican party.
Hawken described herself as a “strong fiscal conservative” and noted that she’s not thrilled about the prospect of spending state money to defend abortion restrictions in court. That’s the same reason Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) chose to veto the new abortion restrictions in his state, although the anti-choice lawmakers overrode him to enact those unconstitutional bans anyway.
The North Dakota House voted on two different personhood measures on Friday afternoon. They rejected a personhood measure that would have immediately amended the state constitution to define life as beginning at conception, but passed a second one that will put a personhood amendment on the next state ballot for voters to consider.