A measure recently approved by the North Dakota House of representatives provides a fertilized human egg the legal rights of a human being, a step that would essentially ban abortion in the state. Representatives voted 51-41 to approve the measure Tuesday. It now moves to the North Dakota Senate for its review.
The bill declares that “any organism with the genome of homo sapiens” is a person protected by rights granted by the North Dakota Constitution and state laws.
The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, said the legislation did not automatically ban abortion however it does seem to be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that extended abortion rights nationwide.
“This language is not as aggressive as the direct ban legislation that I’ve proposed in the past,” Ruby said during House floor debate on Tuesday. “This is very simply defining when life begins, and giving that life some protections under our Constitution — the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Critics of the measure say it will cost millions of dollars to defend. Ruby said the state has been willing to go to bat for other principles that were less important.