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Letter: North Dakota Measure 1 undermines medical care

In response to the Aug. 10 column from Clarence Olson complaining of “false attacks” on the proposed “personhood amendment” (Measure 1) to the North Dakota Constitution:

He insists that advanced medical directives would be unaffected by the amendment, as they are protected by extant law. He seems to ignore the purpose and status of a constitution: It provides a template to which all law must adhere. Surely he must have heard of laws struck down as unconstitutional?

The amendment as phrased demands protection for human life at any stage; it does not stipulate, “any human life except in cases when it must be artificially sustained by mechanical means against the documented wishes of its owner.” It does not stipulate “except for a unicellular zygote being prepared for IVF, which is inadvertently dropped on the floor.” In fact, as Olson quoted, it provides no exceptions at all, which is why it leads to confusion and disagreement.

Olson states that he is a born-again Christian, which I accept makes him a nicer person. But when it comes to interpreting constitutional law, I’m more comfortable consulting constitutional scholars like Steven Morrison, who agree that passage of this amendment could have a chilling effect on doctors providing care at all phases of life.