Tag archives: North Dakota

Ability Should Not Determine Worth

by Anna Higgins

September 27, 2013

In a land of “liberty” and “opportunity” it is difficult to imagine a person’s worth being assigned to him based on his ability, yet this is exactly what we do when we allow elective abortion based on a genetic abnormality diagnosis.

Along with many other Americans, I have a relative with Down Syndrome, and can attest that persons with disabilities are just as valuable and have lives just as full as persons without them. Recently, Prince William and his wife Catherine brought attention to the reality that persons with Down Syndrome are worthy of respect and admiration. As reported by the Huffington Post, the royal couple does not usually accept gifts but made an exception recently when they received a beautiful painting made for them by 43-year-old Tazia Fawley, an artist with Down Syndrome. Suzie Moffat, the director of Heart & Sold, an organization that supports artists with Down Syndrome and helped pass on the painting to the royal couple, noted, “[i]n England, there always has been a stigma attached to (Down Syndrome), and now that is washed away by the fact that the Duke and Duchess have accepted that painting…For this to happen, it’s kind of turned that negativity around.”

To deny a person the opportunity to experience life because he is different or faces physical challenges violates basic human rights and the principles at the heart of our nation. It also deprives the rest of us and our children the opportunity to love and to learn from very special people like Tazia Fawley who may be different from us but who have incredibly generous hearts and unique perspectives.

Thanks to a recent dismissal of the case against the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (PRENDA) in North Dakota, that State is now the first to have a law in place defending pre-born children with disabilities. Along with a ban on sex selective abortion, the North Dakota PRENDA law is the first of its kind to offer protection to children diagnosed with Down Syndrome and other genetic abnormalities.

Policy experts from FRC were front and center during the hearings debating the bill this past spring. Joined by some of our colleagues in other groups FRC presented scientific, legal, and human rights arguments in support of the legislation. Abortion is a particularly grievous threat to pre-born children diagnosed with genetic abnormalities such as Down Syndrome. According to published studies, a staggering 92% of pre-born children diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted.[1] This statistic is unacceptable.

In the new law and after birth a person is legally protected from discrimination based on gender and disability. This standard reflects and upholds the high values we hold dear — that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. Allowing abortion of a person based on her gender or disability asks us to eschew those values. This is incompatible with the Constitution and a society that places such high value on the dignity of the individual. It is particularly troubling to deny these rights to those persons who do not have a way to speak for themselves but rather rely on those in power for protection.

North Dakota may have been the first State to enact legislation protecting pre-born persons with disabilities, but it is our hope that many more States will follow in its footsteps. Persons with disabilities add beautiful dimension to the world, a world that would be much darker absent their presence. Instead of eliminating persons with disabilities and denying them the right to live based on their differences, we should celebrate those differences and open our hearts to everything they have to teach us. Life through their eyes is a dazzling new experience — one brimming with endless possibility.

[1] Joan K Morris, professor of medical statistics, Eva Alberman, emeritus professor, BMJ, “Trends in Down’s syndrome live births and antenatal diagnoses in England and Wales from 1989 to 2008: analysis of data from the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register,” BMJ 2009;339:b3794. (bmj.com).

North Dakota Pro-Life Legislation

by Anna Higgins

February 13, 2013

Although Roe and Casey worked to arbitrarily remove the right of states and citizens to prohibit abortion, states do have a legitimate interest in protecting the health of the woman and fetus throughout all nine months of pregnancy through abortion regulations.

As pro-life sentiment among the nation grows, along with it have come record numbers of pro-life bills being introduced at the state level. States are beginning to take seriously their legitimate interest in protecting the lives of all citizens from conception to death and are implementing common sense regulations on abortion practice that protect the lives and health of both mother and child. FRC has tracked over 130 pro-life measures enacted at the state level in 2011-2012.

Last week, I was privileged to travel to the great state of North Dakota with Dr. David Prentice, FRC resident bioethics expert, in order to testify on important pro-life legislation being introduced in the North Dakota legislature. Up for debate were quite a few pieces of pro-life legislation, including a personhood amendment to be placed on the ballot, a right to life act, a physician’s admitting privileges bill, and a heartbeat bill (this is not an exhaustive list). Testimony was lengthy and the opposition was out in full force.

In preparation for our testimony, Dr. Prentice and I carefully collected relevant statistics and legal information, all cited and documented, in order to present well-rounded factual testimony that would be helpful in the legislative consideration of these bills. What I observed time and again from the opposition testimony was the use of fear tactics and blatant disregard for facts. For example, instead of presenting actual statistics related to abortion and women’s health, legislators were regaled with vague references to equality and government intrusion. Meanwhile, the actual meaning of the text of the bills was misrepresented numerous times by the opposition in an attempt to confuse and scare legislators into voting against the bills. Thankfully, David and I, along with several other pro-life groups were able to allay many fears by presenting the facts.

I’m afraid that all too often these pro-life measures fail because opposition leaders are willing to say anything necessary to make sure the lives of unborn children remain unprotected and unfettered access to abortion remains intact despite life and health concerns for both baby and mother. To the great credit of the legislators in North Dakota, five out of the six pro-life bills presented were passed and will head to the opposite chambers for debate in March.

States are taking the lead on abortion regulation where the federal government has refused to act. It is important to know what the bills mean and to get the truth out to those around you and in the legislature. What we need are citizens who are dedicated to staying abreast of pro-life legislation being proposed in state legislatures and are willing to support such legislation through testimony, calls, letters, and visits to representatives. Your voice matters and may be the one voice of reason in a sea of confusion and misrepresentation.

FRC in the News: January 30, 2013

by Nicole Hudgens

January 30, 2013

Anna Higgins Defends Life in North Dakota Senate

Anna Higgins, Director, Center for Human Dignity at FRC, testified before the North Dakota Senate concerning Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009. The resolution will amend the North Dakota Constitution by adding “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized must be recognized and defended.” Read some of Anna’s statement, Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009, and more about the hearing  here.

FRC Stands for Boy Scouts Morality

Recently, the Boy Scouts of America have considered ending its ban on allowing homosexuals to serve as leaders. FRC is choosing to stand for the code that the Boy Scouts have held for about a century:

“On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.”

Rob Schwarzwalder, FRC’s Senior Vice President, and Tony Perkins, have strongly supported the morality of the Boy Scouts and released a statement to show their strong concern over the possible changes.

Ken Blackwell Applauds Loyalty to Life

Ken Blackwell’s article, which was featured in World Magazine, commends Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) for standing up for life in the House of Representatives even though his party typically does not. Rep. Lipinski addressed the attendees of the March for Life via video and encouraged the enormous crowd to stand for human life. Rep. Lipinski believes that life is a bipartisan issue and those who stand for the unborn are thankful for his leadership!