Matthew S. Worner, Published February 16 2013
Letter: ND goes in wrong directionI was surprised when I read that the Senate in my home state of North Dakota passed a personhood amendment. While I’m a moderate (a left-of-center independent), I’ve always been able to find common ground with North Dakota conservatives simply because of the values that they hold. For example, North Dakota conservatives have always believed in the rights and responsibilities of individuals – and are suspicious when government tries to intrude on those rights. The North Dakota Legislature has taken the state backward in three major ways:
- First, it shocks me that the Legislature wants to get involved in the health care decisions of women. Conservatives all over the Legislature (and the country for that matter) have decried Obamacare. Yet, the “Personhood Amendment” (SCR 4009) gets right at the heart of the matter because the state is infringing on the right of a woman to manage her own health care decisions.
- Second, the Legislature is infringing on academic freedom at one of the state’s flagship universities, North Dakota State University. NDSU professors Brandy Randall and Molly Secor-Turner won a three-year, $1.2 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. The goal of the program was to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in teen children who are homeless, in foster care, or in the juvenile justice system (NDSU, for what it’s worth, was proud of this grant because they announced it in a news release). Political pressure from the anti-abortion legislators and lobby killed this grant – and it’s unfortunate. NDSU will have a harder time attracting talented faculty because of the micromanagement from the state’s Legislature (and NDSU deserves more effective leadership from President Dean Bresciani – who should not cave at the first sign of legislative meddling and should be standing up for his professors).
- Third, I did not think that the religious right would take over the Legislature – and I was wrong. I’ve always thought of North Dakota legislative conservatives as from the Barry Goldwater wing of the party (while Goldwater was conservative back in his day, he would be a moderate Republican when compared to today’s conservatives). That is to say – the U.S. Constitution is our guide – that means that legislatures stay out of the lives of people and let them make their own decisions. Rockefeller, Eisenhower, even Goldwater, etc. would all be turning over in their graves with some of these legislative actions.
The last thing I want to see is a North Dakota Legislature segment on Jon Stewart’s show – I love my former state – but I think we’re headed in that direction. What has happened to common-sense conservatism in North Dakota?
Worner is a former resident of Devils Lake, N.D., and Mayville, N.D., and an alumnus of Mayville State University, Virginia Tech and Georgetown University.