To the Editor:
Measure 1, the constitutional amendment on the ballot this November, states “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

In the dictionary, the word “inalienable” refers to something that’s “impossible to take away or give up.” Using that word about human beings and their right to exist sounds like we’re taking that right to life pretty seriously, no matter who those human beings are, or how old they are, or how young they are, or where they rank on some “quality of life” scale.
But wait a minute! Who says there’s an “inalienable right to life”? Where does that phrase even come from? That’s anti-abortion jargon, isn’t it? That’s just some kind of religious talk, isn’t it? Saying that there’s an “inalienable right to life” mean you’re imposing your morality on me! What reactionary right-wing nut job who came up with that, anyway?

Well, it was Thomas Jefferson, actually. Remember the Declaration of Independence? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Hear it echoed in the Constitution of the State of North Dakota, written in 1889: “all individuals are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life” (article 1, section 1).

Measure 1 protects citizens from others who think that some people don’t have a right to life. It isn’t a radical new thought. This idea’s been around since 1776 as one of the founding principles upon which our system of government is based. It was important for our country then. It’s important for our state to remember now.

Amanda Werth
Cavalier, ND 58220

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