The right to an abortion is based upon inalienable rights to liberty and "the pursuit of happiness" found in the N.D. Constitution, Judge Wickham Corwin wrote in a ruling striking down a 2011 law banning a certain type of abortion procedure. Corwin failed to mention, though, the inalienable right to life found in the same constitution.
"Although initial decisions were based in part on an inferred right to privacy, it is now clear the federal constitutional protection of reproductive rights is founded on the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment, and the controlling word is 'liberty,'" Corwin wrote. "Liberty is also one of the freedoms protected by the Constitution of North Dakota. ... our state constitution has always recognized liberty as one of the foremost of the 'inalienable rights' that must be zealously protected. The same is true of the pursuit of happiness, a right nowhere mentioned in the federal constitution."
Corwin did not indicate when a person first obtains the right to freedom and to pursue happiness, but his ruling suggests he would not extend those rights to pre-born people.
In an email to The Christian Post, Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., who handles state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, pointed out that the same sentence in the N.D. Constitution that mentions the inalienable rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness also mentions the right to life, but Corwin ignored that part.
The N.D. Constitution says, "all individuals ... have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty ... ."
"The pursuit of happiness, after all, is useless to someone who is denied the right to life," Balch wrote.
The 2011 law would have banned the use of a particular chemical used in some abortions. This year, North Dakota passed another law banning most abortions after the fetus is six weeks old. The constitutionality of that law was not addressed in Corwin's ruling.