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Group launches campaign against ND Measure 1

North Dakotans Against Measure 1 Field Manager Molly McLain, left, trains in Cindy Roholt, a volunteer, on Tuesday, August 19, 2014. The training helps volunteers learn how to properly communicate with voters about the measure. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

FARGO – Organizers of a group opposed to a state ballot measure in November that they say would ban abortions and could put restrictions on doctors providing end-of-life care launched their official campaign Tuesday.

North Dakotans Against Measure One set up shop in a downtown Fargo office and began calling voters and organizing their effort to defeat the measure they say is a direct challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion.

The group says if Measure 1 is approved, it would affect all North Dakotans because of its vague wording.

The proposed constitutional amendment states: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

Karla Hanson of Fargo, the group’s spokeswoman, said the measure is an attack on personal health care.

Amending the state constitution to ban abortion is the obvious intent of the measure, Hanson said, but there would be other impacts.

“I originally got involved with fighting this legislation because of the potential prevention of infertility treatment,” she said.

Hanson claimed if the measure passes, the few doctors in the state who offer infertility treatments would be forced to end those services because of fear of criminal liability under the new law.

The office was bustling Tuesday as the group of about a dozen volunteers began their effort to defeat the measure.

Molly McLean of Fargo, field manager of the Fargo office, said “this isn’t a women’s issue, it’s everyone’s issue.”

She said there have already been efforts by opponents of the measure to open dialogue with voters about how Measure 1 would adversely affect personal health care decisions, including end-of-life care decisions.

Retired Dr. Ted Kleiman, a pediatrician for 39 years, said the measure would hinder doctor-patient relationships and would allow government to become an unwanted third wheel in that relationship.

“This is a disgrace; this kind of measure takes away choice … This vaguely worded language in any constitution is hazardous,” Kleiman said.   

Hanson said there is support from Republicans and Democrats for their campaign, and their outreach will extend to all demographics in the state.

The measure was put on the ballot by an overwhelming majority vote in the state Legislature, but Hanson said that doesn’t indicate how North Dakotans will vote.

“I think North Dakotans do their own research and make their own decisions, and they’ll look at all the consequences of the measure,” Hanson said.

The campaign also has offices in Bismarck and Grand Forks.

Supporters of the measure, ND Choose Life, said they are prepared to fight for passage of the measure.

“We are arming ourselves with the facts,” said Shelle Aberle, ND Choose Life’s communications director.

Her group also touts bipartisan support and says their measure would not ban abortion despite opponents’ claims.

ND Choose Life’s website states that experts in law, health care, bioethics and elder care have released a statement claiming Measure 1 will not affect the ability of North Dakotans or their families to make health care decisions at the end of life.