Wednesday April 14, 2010

North Dakota Measure Seeks to Ban Decapitation, Skull Crushing during Abortions

By Kathleen Gilbert

MINOT, North Dakota, April 14, 2010 ( – A measure to prohibit physicians from decapitating and crushing the skulls of live unborn children during abortions is seeking clearance to begin gathering signatures for the November ballot, a North Dakota grassroots pro-life organization has announced.

Daniel Woodard, head of North Dakota’s Stop Decapitation Network, filed the paperwork to the North Dakota Secretary of State and Attorney General on Tuesday. The group aims to collect 12,844 signatures by August 4 in order to place the measure on the 2010 ballot.

“It’s unconscionable and unthinkable that any physician who claims to care for the health of others would remove the heads of children or crush them and toss them in the trash,” Woodard told in an interview Wednesday.

Woodard said that he was inspired to pursue the ballot initiative after reading the quotes of abortion doctors who, in federal court hearings regarding the partial-birth abortion ban, testified to decapitating and crushing the skulls of unborn infants in other types of abortions. Woodard’s measure would apply not only to partial-birth abortions, but also to abortions inside the mother’s womb.

During a federal district court case out of New York in 2004, abortionist Dr. Stephen T. Chasen said that “the fetal head is extracted by placing the forceps around it and crushing it.” Dr. Chasen went on to say that he did not have “any caring or concern for the fetus whose head [he was] crushing.” Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, another abortionist, said, “For the vast majority of D&Es [it is] necessary either [to] crush or collapse the fetal skull.” She told the judge she does not use the word “crush” when speaking to her patients.

According to Woodard, the initiated measure would provide a class A felony penalty to physicians participating in skull-crushing or decapitation abortions. That penalty would become a class AA felony if a skull fragment from the unborn child were to cause serious bodily injury to the mother during or following a decapitation or skull crushing abortion.

When asked about this legislation, state Rep. Dan Ruby from Minot said, “I can hardly believe these crimes happen, especially when physicians can do fetal brain surgery. Any sane American knows that life-saving physicians are supposed to do no harm, most especially not crushing or removing the skulls of children who did nothing to deserve this. I wish Stop Decapitation Network every success on this inspiring endeavor.”

The Secretary of State Al Jaeger has until Thursday, April 22 to approve the measure to begin collecting signatures.

Red River Women’s Clinic (RRWC) of Fargo declined to comment to (LSN) on the legislation because they had not yet seen the initiative. RRWC, North Dakota’s lone abortuary, only provides abortion until the 15th week of pregnancy – at which point the child’s head is too small to purposefully crush or decapitate.

LSN’s attempt to reach Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota for comment was unanswered as of press time.

Woodard said he had spoken to about ten state legislators, and had so far only found support for his anti-decapitation measure. “Even if a legislator was against it, I doubt he’d say it, it would be unpopular,” he noted, adding that “even the most liberal newspapers in the state” have had fair coverage.

“It’s because they have to be, because the way the bill is framed, [the media] can’t really say ‘these are evil anti-choicers who hate women,'” he said.

Woodard said he chose the ballot route instead of the legislature to expedite the process: the soonest that it could become law legislatively would be in the summer of 2011, “whereas if I put it on this November ballot, it becomes law right away,” he said. Even should the ballot initiative fail, he said, he would “absolutely” expect to see state legislators take up the measure.