North Dakota

Embryo Protection Bill Misrepresented – Contact Senator with Facts

House Bill 1450 would prevent the intentional destruction of human embryos created by in vitro fertilization.  Opponents told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the bill would ban in vitro fertilization in the state and interfere with the ability of physicians to treat pregnancy-related conditions.  Such claims are not true.
HB 1450 expressly allows IFV and amendments have been prepared to make clear that good faith actions connected to IVF would be allowed.  It only would prohibit intentionally killing embryos.
The bill – and existing law – also allows for legitimate medical treatments for pregnancy-related conditions.  HB 1450 would not impact legitimate medical care.
Tell your senator to support HB 1450 and allow clarifying amendments, if needed.
Read the conference’s testimony on HB 1450.

Conference Testifies in Support of Abortion Enforcement Act

The North Dakota Catholic Conference testified today in favor of HB 1297, which would update, strengthen, and clarify the state’s laws on abortion.
Read the testimony here.
The bill is before the Senate Human Services Committee.
Read more…

State’s Catholic Bishops Issue Guidance on Charitable Giving

North Dakota’s Roman Catholic bishops are asking Catholics to make charitable giving decisions consistent with Catholic teaching.  “Catholics are compelled by the Gospel to responsibly promote the protection of human life, families, and the common good,” according to the statement.  “At the same time, we urge attentiveness to the possibility of endorsing an organization whose mission or affiliation may be morally objectionable or, at least, questionable.”
statement notes that “Catholic entities should consider whether the mission and activities of the organization are consistent with Catholic teaching, particularly as it pertains to human life and marriage” and that “Church facilities should not be used to promote, endorse, or fundraise for such organizations if their policies are contrary to Church teaching.”
statement by Bishop Paul A. Zipfel, of Bismarck and Bishop Samuel J. Aquila, of Fargo was released on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a traditional period of charitable giving in the Catholic Church.
Read the full statement.

Legislative Updates on Real Presence Radio

Two separate updates this week: Monday, February 21 at 1:30 pm Tuesday, February 22 at 10:30 am Find your local station or listen live at:
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What's Happening

Both chambers must finish working on all the bills, and vote on each of them, before next Friday.  Friday is “crossover,” when all the bills passed by one chamber move over to the other chamber. In North Dakota every bill gets a discussion and floor vote (in the Senate, every amendment also gets a separate debate and vote.) That means that legislators will spend much of next week on the floor discussing and voting on all the remaining bills.
The appropriation committees will meet during the breaks from the floor session. (Some might have the view that the floor sessions occur during the appropriation committee breaks.)  Of particular interest is SB 2012, the Department of Human Services budget.  This budget impacts the least among us and determines how well our hospitals, nursing homes, charities, and service agencies can care for those in need.  Pray for guidance for the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Although Monday is Presidents’ Day and a legal holiday for the state, the legislature will be in session.
There are three bills and one resolution still needing action from you.  Be sure to contact your legislator.  Check the NDCC site for the latest news on these measures.
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Statement from the North Dakota Catholic Conference on Passage of Pro-life Bills

Christopher Dodson, Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference issued the following statement on today’s passage of two pro-life bills in the North Dakota House of Representatives:
The North Dakota Catholic Conference applauds the state House of Representatives for overwhelmingly passing two pro-life pieces of legislation.  By a vote of 68 to 25 the House passed both House Bill 1297 and House Bill 1450.
House Bill 1297 is the Abortion Enforcement Enhancement Act. It updates, strengthens, and clarifies existing laws restricting abortion and protecting a woman’s right to know.
House Bill 1450 is the Defense of Human Life Act. It provides legal protection to human embryos created through in vitro fertilization.  Contrary to some claims, it would not ban in vitro fertilization or contraception.
These two bills put North Dakota in a stronger position to progressively protect all human life and the well-being of women facing unexpected pregnancies.  The North Dakota Catholic Conference urges the state Senate pass both bills.
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Fairness Needed for Catholic Schools

Read how North Dakota’s Catholic schools are among the most regulated in the nation and how one bill could provide some justified relief.
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Conference Testifies in Support of Religious Liberty for Orthodox Patriarch

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is the spiritual leader of millions of Orthodox faithful worldwide.  As a “first among equals” his role and ability to function has international consequences.  The Turkish government, however, has severely limited the patriarch’s religious freedom, by seizing property, closing seminaries, and restricting who may succeed the patriarch.  Since religious liberty is fundamental and Turkey’s actions eventually impact the Orthodox faithful in North Dakota, the North Dakota Catholic Conference supports a resolution calling on Turkey to grant the patriarch basic religious liberty.  The resolution is SCR 4014.
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How Does North Dakota Rank in it’s Treatment of Nonpublic Schools?

Lesson One: School Approval and Teacher Mandates
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ND Catholic Conference: No to Broad Hate Crimes Bill

The North Dakota Catholic Conference testified yesterday against a broadly written “hate crimes” bill that would have infringed upon religious liberty.  The Bismarck Tribune story is here.
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Statement on Decision to Not Charge for Illegal Abortions

Cass County state’s attorney Birch Burdick’s failure file charges stemming from illegal abortions performed at the Red River Women’s Clinic is disappointing and sets a dangerous precedent.
The interest of the North Dakota Catholic Conference in this case has not been about attacking Dr. Thorndike or the Red River Women’s Clinic, but about whether our state’s abortions laws will be enforced and whether women seeking abortions will get the full protection under the law.
The investigation left no doubt that Lori Thorndike performed “a number of abortions” without a North Dakota license on September 30.  According to state law, that means she committed several misdemeanors and one felony for each abortion.  The facts are established.  The law is on the books.  What is missing is a willingness to enforce the law.
The reasons given by Mr. Burdick for declining to prosecute are not persuasive.
Burdick concludes that the “administrative mechanisms” available to the Board of Medical Examiners provides a “suitable remedy.”  That conclusion, however, disregards the express provisions of the law and the will of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.  If the administrative remedies were sufficient, the legislature would not have passed the provisions of the Abortion Control Act.
Burdick states that he is “unable to conceive of a reason” for treating unlicensed abortionists differently from other physicians.  With all due respect, it is not his place to second guess the legislature on why they enact laws.
In fact, there do exist reasons for the difference.  As I wrote previously:
“One reason is that some abortion providers around the country have shown disregard for basic health, safety, and medical standards.  The North Dakota legislature took notice of these instances and chose to prevent them by enacting more stringent standards.  In addition, abortion advocates have insisted that non-physicians have a ‘right’ to conduct abortions.  A felony penalty prevents non-physicians from performing abortions – thus endangering women’s lives – and accepting a misdemeanor penalty as ‘one for the cause.’”
The state’s attorney concludes that he “believes” the only purpose of the legislation was to prevent medically untrained persons from conducting abortions.  That belief is not supported by the language of the law itself and would lead to the absurd conclusion that a medical school graduate never needs to get a license to perform abortions.
While the state’s attorney has the discretion to consider extenuating circumstances when recommending penalties, the complete absence of any charges for the many criminal violations that occurred at the clinic sends the wrong message about protecting women and rule of law.
Read more…

Bishop Samuel Aquila responds to decision regarding illegal abortions

Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fargo, who is attending meetings of the U.S. Bishops in Baltimore this week, provided the diocese with the following response regarding the decision not to file charges against the physician who performed illegal abortions at the Red River Women’s Clinic.
“I am disappointed by Cass County state’s attorney Birch Burdick’s decision to not file charges stemming from illegal abortions performed at the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo.  The North Dakota legislature enacted laws specifically designed to protect women seeking abortions, including those that expressly require a properly licensed physician.  At the same time, there is no fulfillment of the regulations of any civil law which will transform the evil of abortion into a morally acceptable act.  Abortion harms children, women, and fathers in all instances, whether ‘legal’ or not.” – Bishop Samuel Aquila
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New Column: The State's Alternative to Abortion Program

Most North Dakotans have probably not heard of the state’s alternative-to-abortion services program, but it is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of women and their unborn children.
Shepherded through the legislature in 2005 by former state senator Aaron Krauter with bipartisan support, the program confronts the culture of death by giving financial assistance to the pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes that provide life-affirming alternatives to abortion. In 2009 the legislature appropriated $400,000 to the program for the biennium. That is small change in the state’s budget, but it is enough to make an impact.
Read more . . .

Health Care Conference

Featured Speakers:
Mr. Stephen Mikochik
Human Life in the Balance: Health Care Rationing and Disabled People
Mr. Mikochik will discuss current threats to the dignity of persons with disabilities. Mr. Mikochik is the chair of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability and a professor at Temple Law School in Philadelphia. Before coming to Temple, he was an attorney with the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked to enforce the rights of disabled people.
Dr. Marie Hilliard
Threats to Persons with Disabilities, at the Hand of the Very Society Charged with Protecting its Members
Dr. Hilliard will examine the implications of the passage of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act how it will impact ethical health care issues. Dr. Hilliard is Director of Bioethics and Public Policy for the National Catholic Bioethics Center and chairs the Ethics Committee of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability. She has been published with numerous awards over her career and including the Meritorious Service Medal for her 20 years as a registered nurse and Colonel. Dr. Hilliard is a canon lawyer and the former director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference.
Connie Rakitan
Mental Illness: The Overlooked Disability
Ms. Rakitan will discuss supporting the spiritual and social needs of people with mental illness. Rakitan, a member of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Commission on Mental Illness, is the founder of Faith and Fellowship, a support group for people with severe mental illness. Over the past 30 years, Ms. Rakitan has worked with countless people with mental illness, and has found that for many, faith is the only relief they can obtain.
Health care administrators, nurses, physicians, chaplains, priests, deacons and anyone serving people with disabilities should plan to attend.
October 25th, 2010 Boniface Hall, St. Alexius Hospital Bismarck, FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER Log on to  or Call 701-223-2519 Toll Free 1-888-419-1237
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Bishop Samuel Aquila: “There can be no backing away in the public square from the call to proclaim the dignity of human life”

In a talk presented at the Sept. 22 Gospel of Life Prayer Breakfast in St. Louis, Mo., Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, said, “There can be no backing away in the public square from the call to proclaim the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.”
The prayer breakfast was sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of Legatus, a lay organization of Catholic business and professional leaders. The text of Bishop Aquila’s talk is posted at

Catholic Conference Marks Completion of First Phase of Religious Liberty Campaign, Will Continue Push for Constitutional Amendment

This week concluded the first phase of the campaign to place a Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment on the North Dakota ballot.  In just a few short months, North Dakota citizens collected over 85% of the required number of signatures.  The response to the call to protect religious liberty in North Dakota has been tremendous.  People from all walks of life and faith traditions signed the petitions and collected signatures.  We are especially inspired by the large number of young adults who enthusiastically supported the cause.  We extend our appreciation to the hundreds of North Dakotans who collected signatures, as well the hundreds of churches and community organizations that helped with this effort.

In the months ahead, the North Dakota Catholic Conference will work with the North Dakota Family Alliance, civic leaders, and people of all faiths and political persuasions to gather the remaining number of signatures.  We look forward to then redirecting our efforts to sharing the importance of securing religious liberty for all and the need for a Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment in North Dakota.  

Following the lead of the federal government and a majority of the states, the Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment would restore protection for religious liberty to its traditional level, providing a sensible balance between the rights of individuals and legitimate government interests.  As Catholics, we are dedicated to protecting the religious rights of all persons.  As North Dakotans, we are committed to enacting a Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment.

Health Care Reform Conference

The North Dakota Catholic Conference's Annual Conference for Catholic Health Care Providers is October 15, 2009 in Bismarck.

The keynote address is "Health Care Reform: Questions and Answers" by Jeff Tieman, Senior Director of Health Reform Initiatives for the Catholic Health Association.

Go here to find out more and get registration information.

Two Bishops - Two Letters - One Teaching

Within days of each other, both bishops of North Dakota issued letters to their priests and the faithful of their respective dioceses on health care reform.
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Pomeroy Votes to Fund D.C. Abortions

North Dakota's Representative Earl Pomeroy voted to fund abortion on demand for the District of Columbia. The vote was 219 in favor of funding to 208 against.

Please contact Representative Pomeroy and politely express your disappointment with his vote - which is a departure from his usual votes on abortion funding. Other important abortion funding bills are coming up. It is important that he know that North Dakotans do not their tax money used for abortion.

Representative Earl Pomeroy
Washington: United States House of Representatives
1501 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Telephone: (202) 225-2611
FAX: (202) 226-0893
Bismarck: Telephone: (701) 224-0355
Fargo: Telephone: (701) 235-9760