A national leader in the movement to end abortion thanked a throng of abortion opponents for their efforts during a rally on the steps of the state Capitol on Wednesday.
The Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, told supporters of four abortion laws signed by the governor that he rejoices in the state’s accomplishments. While the laws are a huge victory for the anti-abortion movement, Pavone said, the real work now begins.
“What you are doing here assists the entire nation,” Pavone told a crowd that organizers estimated at close to 1,200. Others estimated the crowd at 400 to 500. “Every victory must be defended. We will continue to fight and we will continue to win,” Pavone said.
Pavone urged supporters, shivering on the Capitol steps on a windy overcast afternoon, to do their part and speak in defense of the laws whenever challenged.
“The time is already right to do what is right,” Pavone said.
Pavone went on to use Martin Luther King Jr. as an example in the fight against injustice and prejudice. He said one of the laws passed, House Bill 1305, specifically dealt with banning abortions based on gender and genetic abnormalities.
“The fundamental prejudice here ... is the discrimination between the born and the unborn,” Pavone said.
Bishop David Kagan of the Bismarck Catholic Diocese thanked everyone in attendance for their “support for the cause of life.”
Kagan said with the passage of the abortion laws, “North Dakota is second to no other state in our nation” in valuing of all human life from conception to death.
Kagan chose to end his remarks with a 2005 quote by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:
“We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”
Christopher Dodson, director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, echoed much of what Pavone told the crowd.
“This is the future of North Dakota, the future of our country,” Dodson said. “It’s a violent act (abortion); a sign that we have failed as a society. We can do better.”
Dodson said he had one thing to say to pro-choice individuals who argue that the abortion laws “turn back the clock” in North Dakota.
“That clock was broke 40 years ago,” Dodson said, in reference to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed three bills into law in late March, enacting the strictest abortion laws in the nation. A fourth bill was signed on Tuesday.
Legal challenges to some or all of the legislation are expected. Pending any legal challenges, the laws are set to go into effect Aug. 1. In anticipation of legal action, a $400,000 appropriation is being considered for inclusion in the attorney general’s office budget.
The laws include requirements to check for a fetal heartbeat, a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, a ban on abortions based on gender or genetic abnormalities and more stringent guidelines for physicians. A resolution approved by lawmakers also is set to appear on the fall 2014 ballot that defines life as beginning at conception.
Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.