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‘Save the Baby Bison’

“Save the Baby Bison.”

Buttons that said this were handed out as part of a campaign regarding a proposed change to the North Dakota constitution. What is the campaign about? Is it something about the environment? No. Is it something about conserving endangered species? No. Is it something about animal husbandry? No.

It is about North Dakota Measure 1.

On Tuesday, Sept. 16 of this year, individuals representing the organization ND Choose Life were tabling in the union, encouraging people to vote yes on North Dakota Measure 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that is on this November’s ballot. The measure reads:

“The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

The slogan “Save the Baby Bison” does not address the issues at play in this measure and trivializes these issues, which are very serious and complex. The image of a baby bison playing with a beach ball distracts people from the implications of this measure passing. The fact is that Measure 1 is poorly worded and has the potential to affect the ability of individuals to make deeply personal decisions. If passed, it could lead to lengthy and costly court battles, wasting taxpayer money. The full consequences of a constitutional amendment should be known and laid out to voters before it is given to them for approval. I am also concerned about the marketing of the campaign. It uses the hashtag #OneHerd, and along with the green and gold lettering on the sign, it may be interpreted as an endorsement by North Dakota State University. This may be confusing to those who are not familiar with the usage policy of NDSU branding.

Proponents of this measure claim that it will protect our common-sense laws and will create a North Dakota in which the right to abortion is not recognized. Proponents argue that the measure is needed to keep Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry out of the state. (FYI: There is one abortion clinic in our entire state. It is independently owned and operated and not affiliated with Planned Parenthood in any way). Those questioning the measure have raised concerns about the ability of individuals to make personal medical decisions regarding birth control, in-vitro fertilization, end of life care (such as Do Not Resuscitate Orders) and abortion (including cases involving rape, incest and health of the woman).

The best way to reduce the abortion rate is through comprehensive sex education and access to contraception, not by limiting access to abortion services or by making abortion illegal. Making abortion illegal only drives it underground and makes it dangerous. Keeping abortion safe and legal keeps it in the light and under regulation. Safe and legal abortion is essential for the wellbeing of women and their families.

-The letter to the editor is from Sara Bowman, a senior majoring in microbiology-

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