A bill passed in the North Dakota House of Representatives on Monday defines fertilized eggs as human beings possessing the same rights as an adult. The bill, HB 1572 (PDF), defines a human being as “any organism, including the single-cell human embryo, irrespective of the method of reproduction, who possesses a genome specific for and consistent with an individual member of the human species.”
The legislative findings section of the bill states that “[t]he right to life is a more fundamental right of a preborn child than the mother’s right to liberty or pursuit of happiness,” evidence that the state House members believe that the rights of a group of cells inside a woman trump the rights of the living, breathing woman herself. Although the bill’s supporters claim that their intent is not to outlaw abortion entirely, the bill includes the following language:
Because all preborn children are persons, no abortion performed with specific intent is legal. A direct abortion is always performed with the specific intent to bring death to a preborn child; it is a deprivation of the right to life and the right to the equal protection of the law and is the ultimate manifestation of the involuntary servitude of one human being to another.
It’s interesting that the bill’s supporters believe that a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy is an example of the “involuntary servitude of one human being to another,” but does not consider the government forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy against her will a manifestation of the involuntary servitude of a human being to the embryo or fetus inside her own uterus. Representative Dan Ruby (R) was the prime sponsor of the bill, which now goes to the state senate for a vote.
In Arkansas, the state House of Representatives approved a bill banning late-term abortions in the state. The bill is similar to the so-called federal Partial Birth Abortion Act that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 in Gonzales v. Carhart. It includes an exception to preserve the life of the pregnant woman, but not her health.