December 1, 2014
In a word…perseverance. A person has to have a whole lot of this quality to take up the cross that is the pro-life movement.
On a statewide level this past election, North Dakota voters had an opportunity to enact the proposed human life amendment, Measure 1. As stated in the amendment, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” The aim of passing the amendment was to protect the state’s existing pro-life laws and prevent judicial interference in the future.
A bipartisan majority of the state legislature put the proposed amendment on the ballot. Then a small army of the pro-life faithful took over to advance the campaign and educate voters about Measure 1.
The measured failed by a considerable margin, 64 percent no votes and 36 percent yes. Despite the election outcome, the efforts of those behind the pro-life movement were not wasted as a spotlight, once again, shined on the fight to protect the sanctity of human life at every stage.
The efforts were led by the ND Choose Life executive committee created for the campaign which included: Janne Myrdal, Chair; Christopher Dodson, North Dakota Catholic Conference; Devyn Nelson; ND Right to Life Director; Tom Freier; Jo Bogner; and Ray Gruby, MD.
Committee members say they are disappointed that Measure 1 didn’t pass, but they are not defeated by the outcome. In fact, they think it has made them stronger for the battles ahead. While, the measure committee will no longer exist, a lot of good came from its creation.
A coalition of pro-life organizations from across the state was formed including North Dakota Family Alliance, North Dakota Life League, Love Them Both, North Dakota Catholic Conference, North Dakota Right to Life and the North Dakota chapter of Concerned Women for America. This group will continue to move forward, as a united front like never before.
Committee member and Bismarck resident, Jo Bogner, says the efforts that came forward in support of Measure 1 will continue, just in a different way through this new coalition of organizations.
“All of the good will, all the contacts, donors and everyone who got involved have created a foundation for the future,” she explains. “We created an entity called First Principle to keep this going. We are still working on the details, but it will be our vehicle to move forward and the infrastructure is now in place for future campaigns.”
Dr. Ray Gruby, committee member and retired orthopedic surgeon from Bismarck, echoed Bogner’s sentiment by saying that the new coalition has become a family of sorts, with one goal in mind to continue the efforts of the pro-life movement.
It’s these positive outcomes of the recent campaign that committee members turn their focus toward. Devyn Nelson, executive director of ND Right to Life, says the amount of people reached through the campaign is invaluable. “We had people giving so much of their time to this campaign, to try and save lives. People are fired up now and they want to keep moving forward, keep doing everything they can to protect life. The youth are especially strong in this regard. Moving forward, we have the support of more people than we used to, and it is because of this campaign.”
The pro-life movement has many battles ahead. What might look like the end with the election outcome is actually seen as a beginning for a concentrated effort to fight out-of-state abortion lobbying groups and potential judicial decisions that are inevitably headed toward threatening ND’s pro-life laws. “We are not slowing down or going away because the culture of death is not going away,” Bogner says. “We have so much more work to do.”
Dr. Gruby adds, “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who gave of their time, treasures and even reputation to take a public stand on this issue during the campaign.” He points toward the local clergy and physicians who came forward in support of Measure 1. “If we could encourage people to make a point to thank even one of the people on that list, that would be so valuable as we move forward.”
Of all that came out of the campaign for Measure 1, Bogner says she is most encouraged by the sense of urgency that has been created among those engaged in the pro-life movement. “We can’t wait for a ballot measure for us Christians to be called into action,” she explains. “We are determined that even though we failed at the polls this time, we will succeed in the end. We will keep this united, non-denominational movement going and make it part of who we are.”
Nelson agrees saying that the movement won’t slow, but actually has gained momentum. “The pro-life movement will quiet down when we stop killing those who are the most vulnerable in our society, the unborn and the elderly,” he asserts. “We are not going to quiet down, we are going to continue pursuing legislation that will protect life."