Recently, there has been a huge push to label Measure 1 in a negative light. There have been articles written claiming Measure 1 is "the most dangerous piece of legislation ever purposed in North Dakota" (Opinion in the Grand Forks Herald - July 14th), that if passed, do not resuscitate (DNR) orders and other end of life decisions will no longer be available. These claims are not backed up by solid factual information, but instead, the authors seek to appeal to your emotions to persuade you. In this article, I will explain why these claims have no grounding.
Measure 1 will add the following sentence to our state constitution:
"The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected."
Those who oppose the measure claim this sentence will make it impossible for you or your loved ones to have a DNR order. If the measure stated that the government "shall recognize and protect the life of every human being at any stage of development," then I would share the same concerns about end of life decisions. However, the measure does not read "the life." It reads, the "right to life."
So what difference does the word "right" make? Let me explain with an example.
Our nation's constitution gives all American citizens the right to keep and bear arms. This means that you can choose to own a gun, and there can be no laws passed stating that citizens cannot own their own weapons. You have the right to keep and bear arms. You are the one who gets to make the conscious decision to own a weapon. This does not force you to own a weapon, but you have the right to own a weapon. In a similar way, this measure seeks to clarify that all humans have the right to life and that no legislation can restrict their right to life.
Saying that the right to life means you cannot choose to have a DNR order is like saying your right to keep and bear arms means you must own a gun and you cannot ever give it away or sell it, even if you would choose to do otherwise. It would mean that if you do not own a weapon, you are breaking the law. We know that this is not what the right to keep and bear arms means, so why are we trying to state something similar about the right to life?
A right is given so that YOU are the one who gets to make the decision, not someone else. Giving all humans the right to life means that each individual gets to make their own conscious decisions about having life. A right is given to an individual so nobody else can force you to choose either way. And the only way for a human to be able to choose whether they live or not is for them to be old enough to make their own decision, meaning they must be alive up to that point.
I don't know why the opponents of this measure are bringing up end of life situations as a reason to oppose this measure. Maybe this reasoning is just a way to push for their abortion beliefs without addressing abortion itself. But what I do know is that the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood - which doesn't even have a clinic in the state - and other organizations will literally be spending millions of dollars in advertising this fall, seeking to deceive the people of North Dakota. I would ask my fellow North Dakotans to diligently seek to find the truth behind every claim and not believe everything that is said. Even if these groups end up being the loudest voice this fall, that does not mean that they are being honest and seeking the best for the people.
Ultimately, I would urge you to vote "yes" on Measure 1, because all people should have the right to life, and that inalienable right should be both recognized and protected.