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Port: North Dakota might not have an abortion ban without the Democratic-NPL

We're seeing a lot of partisanship in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling. The Democratic-NPL is using words like "vile" and "evil" to describe it. Yet, without elected members of the Democratic-NPL, North Dakota's abortion ban might not exist.

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North Dakota Democratic-NPL Chairman Patrick Hart speaks at the party's state convention in Minot on Saturday, March 26, 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — When a draft of the Supreme Court's opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked earlier this year, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL was swift to condemn it.

And they were positively hyperbolic about it.

In an emailed statement, the party called it a "vile" and "damning" decision that will "relegate women across the country as second class citizens."

"This is evil," party chairman Patrick Hart wrote. "This is unconscionable."

So it is with a deep sense of irony that I must report that the "trigger bill" passed by North Dakota's legislature back in 2007, that will make abortion, with a few exceptions, a class C felony in our state, was sponsored by a Democrat, and became law back then only because of support from Democrats.

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Attorney General Drew Wrigley just certified that the conditions for this bill to trigger have been met, and it will go into effect on July 28.

The bill in question was House Bill 1466 back in 2007 , and its primary sponsor was former Rep. James Kerzman , a Democrat. The other House co-sponsor was Rep. Ralph Metcalf , who was also a Democrat.

And the bill wasn't just sponsored and introduced by Democrats. It passed each chamber of the Legislature with significant bipartisan support.

In the Senate the bill saw a 29-16 vote on final passage ( here's the recorded vote in the Senate Journal ), with nine Democrats, some of them very recognizable names, voting in favor.

Sen. Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford
Sen. Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford
File Photo

The list:

  • Sen. Joan Heckaman (current minority leader in 2022)
  • Sen. Aaron Krauter (candidate for lieutenant governor in 2000)
  • Sen. Elroy Lindaas
  • Sen. Richard Marcellais (former chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa)
  • Sen. Tim Mathern (former minority leader, candidate for governor in 2008)
  • Sen. David O'Connell (minority leader in 2007)
  • Sen. Larry Robinson
  • Sen. Ryan Taylor (candidate for governor in 2012 and agriculture commissioner in 2014)
  • Sen. John Warner

Had these Democrats voted against the bill, it wouldn't have passed the Senate.
In the House, the bill passed on a 68-24 vote, with 14 of the "yea" votes coming from, again, some very recognizable Democratic names:

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  • Rep. Bill Amerman
  • Rep. Tracy Boe
  • Rep. Merle Boucher (minority leader in 2007, candidate for governor in 2004)
  • Rep. Ed Gruchalla
  • Rep. Pam Gulleson (former minority leader, candidate for U.S. House in 2012)
  • Rep. Bob Hunksor
  • Rep. Scott Kelsh
  • Rep. James Kerzman (bill sponsor)
  • Rep. Ralph Metcalf (bill co-sponsor)
  • Rep. Shirley Meyer
  • Rep. Phillip Mueller
  • Rep. Arlo Schmidt
  • Rep. Dorvan Solberg
  • Rep. Clark Williams

And before you dismiss this bipartisan support for an abortion ban as an anachronism of a bygone age, consider this: The man running on the Democratic-NPL ticket for the U.S. House against incumbent Republican Kelly Armstrong, having received the endorsement of the party at their state convention in Minot with party chairman Hart presiding, is a man who opposes abortion.
Who supports the demise of Roe v. Wade.

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Who supports this bipartisan abortion ban that was passed by the Legislature in 2007.

I spoke with Mark Haugen about his pro-life position back in May , when the draft opinion first leaked. "I support it," Haugen said of the draft at that time. "My convictions are very strong. My faith is very strong."

I asked him specifically about this trigger ban, and he said he supports that as well, because while he supports the health and rights of mothers, the "rights of the baby are paramount."

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The North Dakota Democratic-NPL's endorsed candidates for statewide office on Saturday, March 26, 2022, including (from left) Katrina Christiansen for U.S. Senate, Mark Haugen for U.S. House, Finton Dooley for agriculture commissioner and Trygve Hammer for Public Service Commission.
Kyle Martin / The Forum

Haugen will be on tomorrow's episode of the Plain Talk podcast to talk about this further.

We're seeing a lot of partisanship in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling. The Democratic-NPL is using words like "vile" and "evil" to describe it.

Yet, without elected members of the Democratic-NPL, North Dakota's abortion ban might not exist. And the party endorsed, this year, a man who continues to support the abortion ban to this day.

Seems like the Democrats might need to temper their partisanship on the abortion issue, or do us the courtesy of explaining their apparent hypocrisy.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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