Over the years I’ve heard fellow North Dakotans say many weird things; however, wishing our state was more like Texas isn’t one of them. Until now. As Texas gears up with its own version of Stasi—that vast East German network of ordinary citizens turned informants on other ordinary citizens during the Cold War—North Dakota’s Republican legislators are making clear they’re excited to do the same. And if Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, and House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, aren’t strong enough, we’ll see copy-cat Texas anti-abortion legislation in the upcoming special session.
Fun fact—OK, not fun at all, but a fact: Although the U.S. has the dubious distinction of having the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, Texas—all hat and no cattle when it comes to citizen rights—has a maternal mortality rate even higher. One might expect Texas legislators to bend over backwards instituting state maternal wellness programs and support for pregnant women and their families.
One would be wrong.
Instead, Texas is instituting a Stasi to keep tabs on pregnant women—you know, Delilahs, who can’t be trusted with their own medical decisions—and, more importantly, to inform on the people who help them. The husband who drives his wife to the abortion clinic? On the hook for $10,000. The doctor who completes a patient’s miscarriage? Headed for court if the janitor suspects the miscarriage was disguised abortion. Here’s the kicker: if the court sides with the doctor, the law makes collecting legal fees from the informer janitor impossible.
How about grandma who babysits her grandchildren and lends her daughter money so she can get an abortion? Wow, where to start. But, hey, on the upside, the governor of Texas said girls and women who object to giving birth to their rapist’s baby have nothing to worry about, because the governor is putting an end to rape in Texas. Poof! All gone.
The newly minted, ideological SCOTUS decided the Texas law with its clearly unconstitutional outcome was so cleverly written, they’d let it stand…on a “shadow docket”… in the middle of the night. Ha, ha. All those women scrambling to get scheduled abortions and their families scared silly about helping them—what a hoot. Of course, if you’re blowing up the institution you serve, oral arguments are such a waste of time. (Crack out the Lonestar; let’s play Texas Hold’em.)
North Dakotans don’t want to copy Texas. We don’t want a Stasi state where pregnant women and their families have no right to privacy and no recourse to the ugliness of busybodies and religious zealots. We don’t want every miscarriage treated suspiciously and doctors just a phone call away from being hauled into court.
Last December Texas GOP Chairman Allen West and some legislators were talking secession from the good old U.S.A., a process cutely nicknamed “Texit” like Brexit. Sigh. Guessing I’m not the only one a wee bit wishful they’d succeeded in seceding.
Ahlin lives in Fargo and is a frequent contributor to The Forum's opinion pages. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.