THE BLOG
10/29/2014 06:01 pm ET Updated Dec 29, 2014

Blank Check for Government Intrusion? North Dakota's Amendment One Is Disguised Personhood Law

The world was inspired by North Dakota's courageous battle against flooding last year, when neighbors stood side by side and piled sandbags high, protecting each other. They did not wait for the government to involve itself.

But a "yes" vote on Amendment 1, the personhood amendment, could bring a veritable flood of government intrusion into those same folks' lives.

The North Dakota "Life Begins at Conception" Amendment sounds harmless enough, at first.

"The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected."

But those words are like the small print in a contract. Their meaning may not be clear, but it can come back and bite you just the same.

Look closely at the words "...any stage of development...". This redefinition of life, (remember it also says "...Begins at Conception"-- means even the fertilized egg!

What is the amendment's purpose?

The "Life Begins at Conception" Amendment is first and foremost intended to criminalize all abortions, at any stage: removing American women's Constitutionally-protected reproductive rights.

Do they admit this? Usually not. But in a moment of candor...

"This amendment is intended to present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade," said state senator Margaret Sitte, a Bismarck Republican who is the bill's sponsor, referring to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion."

Amendment One could also have a flood of devastating consequences.

These are not spelled out, which makes the matter even worse.

If asked, does the Amendment criminalize embryonic stem cell research, or the In Vitro Fertilization procedure, or the birth control pill, the authors of the amendment can say no. These side effects are not mentioned.

But once this Amendment is put into the state constitution, sheer common sense suggests there will be problems. The Amendment does not mention a blatant attack on women's rights, but any thoughtful analysis makes clear the threat.

And there is a lot more.

Think of a family stranded on top of their house during a flood. Their danger is not only from the water. They may also face the unexpected threat of poison snakes, slithering onto the rooftop.

Similarly, there will be (perhaps unintended) side effects to Amendment One.

Consider just three:

North Dakotans may want to increase their families by the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure. This operation involves fertilized eggs, not all of which are used. When a couple tries for a baby that way, the doctor wants 12-15 embryos for the couple to choose from, to pick the one most likely to survive. But what about the others? They are typically frozen, or discarded. If they must be protected by law, anyone who wants to can sue to shut down the IVF clinics.

Do North Dakotans support embryonic stem cell research? That also involves blastocysts. When a couple decides to throw away a fertilized egg, only then can it be used for embryonic stem cell research. But if that fertilized egg is entitled to full legal protection, a stem cell scientist working to end cancer or paralysis -- or the college where he/she works -- could easily be sued.

And the birth control pill? This could be considered a threat to embryos, and as such against the law.

Should we criminalize stem cell research, birth control pills, the IVF procedure -- and a woman's right to choose -- without even directly discussing them?

Amendment One , the "Life Begins at Conception" Amendment, is a blank check for government intrusion into North Dakotans' private lives.