North Dakota Senate Declares an Embryo a ‘Person’—Endangering Women, Physicians Say

Camille Beredjick

The North Dakota State Senate recently passed an anti-abortion bill that doctors say could put women's lives at risk during complicated pregnancies.   Heralded as a major victory for the anti-abortion "personhood" movement, the bill gives legal rights and protections to human embryos. If the bill passes in the state House, voters will decide the matter on the 2014 ballot. Personhood advocates hope such a bill would incur a Supreme Court challenge and offer a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade:  "We are intending that it be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, since Scalia said that the Supreme Court is waiting for states to raise a case," state Sen. Margaret Sitte (R), the sponsor of the personhood initiative, told HuffPost. According to Salon, the bill restricts nearly all abortions, except in a narrow percentage of cases where a woman's life is at risk. As a result, physicians say, doctors will not be able to properly treat women who miscarry or experience ectopic pregnancies, two examples of complications that can be extremely dangerous: “SB 2303 will restrict a doctor’s ability to treat doomed pregnancies, putting women’s lives at risk,” Siri Fiebiger, a physician from Fargo who practices obstetrics and gynecology, said in a statement released Tuesday. “Ectopic pregnancies are, and miscarriages can be, life-threatening if not treated in a timely fashion,” Fiebiger added. “Complications during pregnancy should be managed by physicians according to the patient’s needs and values, without involvement by politicians.”

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Camille Beredjick is a student of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a Spring 2013 ITT intern.
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