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November 4, 2014 / Press Releases

NARAL Pro-Choice America on Rejection of Ballot Measure 1 in North Dakota

November 4, 2014

Voters in North Dakota today defeated Ballot Measure 1, an amendment stating that a fertilized egg has an “inalienable right to life.”

In response, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue released the following statement:

“Today, North Dakotans saw through right-wing extremists’ attempts to insert a highly controversial measure into the state’s constitution that would have robbed North Dakota women of their inalienable rights to their own body and their own lives. Had it passed and gone into effect, this amendment could have affected women’s access to many health-care services, including birth control and in vitro fertilization.

“NARAL Pro-Choice America will continue to fight against amendments like Ballot Measure 1 in North Dakota and throughout the United States. We stand with the women of North Dakota who have the right to make personal health care decisions without interference from politicians.”

In North Dakota, personhood proponents made their first ballot attempt by employing a deceptive strategy from the start:

Their messaging was deceptive. They claimed the measure will “simply ensure that the inalienable right that is already mentioned in the constitution is not denied to any human being.” But the constitutional amendment states that “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected,” which clearly has implications for abortion, many forms of birth control, and potentially IVF and stem-cell research.

Their campaign is distancing themselves from the word “personhood.” Personhood ND celebrated the 2013 legislative victory and articulated their goal of passing the measure by popular vote, but they have strategically not used their name during the campaign; instead Personhood USA is using “Love Them Both.” ND Choose Life is the coalition of groups behind Measure 1. The coalition is made up of groups such as North Dakota Life League and Love Them Both, both of who support and explicitly mention “personhood” in their language endorsing the coalition and Measure 1, but they include a “fact sheet” stating that the measure is not “personhood.” This effectively distances them from the negative stigma attached to the “personhood” movement after the multiple losses at the ballot box.

View original ballot measure memo here.

NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all Americans. NARAL works to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.”


Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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