A total of five legislative bills relating to personhood and abortion were subject to hearings this week with plenty of passionate and at times blunt testimony on both sides.
Dan Becker, a member of Personhood USA and Georgia Right To Life, was in Bismarck on Tuesday to testify in favor of Senate Bill 2302. It is a right to life act, banning abortion except in the case of saving a mother’s life or due to serious medical complications.
Becker was blunt when discussing the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court and the potential impact the nine-member court could have on the abortion debate in the future.
“God forbid a conservative member of the court were to resign and be replaced,” Becker said.
The Supreme Court has a 5-4 majority of conservative-appointed justices, with Justice Anthony Kennedy tending to be a moderate swing vote.
Bismarck resident Steve Cates spoke in favor of Senate Bill 2305 on Tuesday. SB2305 limits abortions and requires any physician performing an abortion must be licensed in the state, have admitting privileges at a local hospital and be licensed in obstetrics and gynecology.
Cates said the bill was reasonable and the focus on highly-certified physicians was in a mother’s best interest. He questioned those against the bill.
“I don’t know how you can oppose this if you claim to care about the health and well-being of women,” Cates said.
Tammi Kromenaker, director of the state’s only abortion clinic, Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, testified against SB2305.
“This is not fair to the women who have a constitutional right to have one,” Kromenaker said. “Having an abortion is safer than having a penicillin shot.”
During testimony Wednesday on House Bill 1456, Kromenaker repeatedly declined to get into a philosophical debate with committee members. HB1456 would require physicians to check for a heartbeat before performing an abortion and bar physicians from conducting one if a heartbeat is detected.
Kromenaker acknowledged that the philosophical difference over when life begins is likely to keep the debate on abortion going on indefinitely.
“I don’t think this will ever be resolved,” Kromenaker said.
SB2336 to draw debate
Republican lawmakers rolled out Senate Bill 2336, an overhaul of the state’s oil tax structure, on Monday. Democrats waited until they had a quickly-assembled fiscal note in hand and blasted the bill on Thursday.
Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, opposed the proposed 2 percent reduction in the state oil extraction tax, from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent.
“I think the 6.5 percent is the people’s share of the oil tax,” Triplett said.
Voters approved the 6.5 percent oil extraction tax in 1980.
Rep. David Drovdal, R-Arnegard, said SB2336 is better than tackling oil tax issues in a piecemeal fashion. He said it cleans up the tax issue and provides consistency for the industry.
“Sometimes you just have to have (a) comprehensive (bill) of the whole industry,” Drovdal said.
The Senate Finance and Taxation Committee will hold a hearing for SB2336 at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Lewis and Clark Room.