Published On: Wed, Dec 11th, 2019

Heartbeat International fights North Dakota abortion rules set to silence pro-life voices

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the world’s largest affiliation of pregnancy resource centers filed their answer Tuesday following a federal district court’s decision to allow the centers to intervene in defense of a North Dakota informed-consent statute that the American Medical Association challenged in June. The AMA lawsuit opposes the state’s efforts to fully inform women considering abortion that it terminates the life of a “separate, unique, living human being,” and that the chemical abortion process may be reversible if treated quickly.

photo by Carrie Z. via pixabay

Heartbeat International, which has two affiliated pregnancy centers in North Dakota and operates the international Abortion Pill Rescue Network, filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, which the court granted on Nov. 26. The Abortion Pill Reversal program comprises more than 600 health care professionals across the United States who are willing and able to administer an FDA-approved drug that has successfully stopped abortions after a mother requests intervention. Heartbeat’s work would be affected by the lawsuit’s outcome, and its research is already at issue in the litigation.

“Every woman deserves to know the whole truth about abortion, and that includes the facts about her child and the choices she can make every step of the way,” said ADF Legal Counsel Denise Harle. “The American Medical Association, which ought to support providing patients with as much information as possible, instead wants to keep vulnerable women in the dark about vital information about fetal development and their pregnancy options prior to an abortion. Women deserve to know the truth.”

“It is an established scientific fact that the life of every human being—with his or her own unique DNA and all other building blocks of life—starts at the moment of conception,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, vice president of the ADF Center for Life. “It is North Dakota’s prerogative if it wishes to ensure that women know about that as well as about the existence of promising medical procedures available to her if she chooses to reverse the chemical abortion process. A woman who is informed about the many dangerous risks of abortion, the reality of what the abortion will do to her child and to herself, and her options as a parent is far more likely to make a wise decision concerning her health and her child’s life.”

In opposing North Dakota’s law, the AMA misleadingly cites the Supreme Court’s decision last year in NIFLA v. Becerraa ruling that affirmed that the government can’t force people to speak a message against their beliefs. As ADF attorneys who litigated the NIFLA case explain, North Dakota’s law deals with informed consent prior to a medical procedure with serious consequences, not unconstitutional compelled speech. The Supreme Court in NIFLA reaffirmed that such accurate, relevant information is lawfully part of informed consent to abortion.

“The NIFLA decision guarantees that Heartbeat and its members cannot be forced to speak a message unrelated to the medical services they provide; at the same time, it ensures that women undergoing abortion (or any other medical procedure) will be protected by longstanding canons of medical ethics requiring that they be told about the risks, alternatives, and consequences of the procedure,” the motion to intervene filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, Western Division, in American Medical Association v. Stenehjem explains. “This Court’s proper consideration of NIFLA is necessary to safeguard the pregnant women who will be hearing the Human Being Disclosure and APR Disclosure before consenting to a life-altering medical procedure—women who may soon be contacting Heartbeat for information, medical treatment, or support.”
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