Port: Would North Dakotans vote to keep abortion legal?

Now that Roe v. Wade is no more, and the democratic process has engaged, we're going to be learning a lot about how Americans feel about abortion. I think we're going to find out that they are not nearly so pro-life or pro-choice as we've been led to believe.

Anti Abortion.jpg
Anti-abortion protestors hold signs toward pedestrians and passing traffic Wednesday, July 11, 2018, outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo.
Erin Bormett / Forum News Service
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on abortion has roiled American culture and politics.

It's also been the genesis of a lot of very stupid journalism.

Case in point, David Leonhardt, writing for The New York Times , argues that a recent vote in politically red Kansas to keep a prohibition on abortion bans on the books was an example of Americans "defying the Supreme Court," as his headline states.

It wasn't.

It was, in fact, precisely the opposite.


The court wants the people to vote. "The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the Dobbs decision , noting that Roe v. Wade and other precedent struck down by Dobbs "arrogated that authority."

Thanks to turmoil at FTX, a high-profile cryptocurrency exchange, that industry is in free fall. What does it mean for crypto-related data center projects here in North Dakota?
"That'll be for Coach Berry to make a determination," UND President Andrew Armacost said on this episode of Plain Talk.
"We're still left with many questions," Port writes.
"There are significant questions of ethics and competency here, and UND owes us answers," Rob Port writes.
State Sen. Janne Myrdal, a Republican who has worked as an activist in the pro-life movement for more than 30 years, joined this episode of Plain Talk to talk about what the debate over abortion in the upcoming legislative session might look like.

Another very stupid article from the Times sees reporter Nate Cohn doing "analysis" — in this context meaning something akin to scapulimancy — to extrapolate the demographic characteristics of the Kansas vote to other states.

He arrived at this conclusion: "If abortion rights wins 59% support in Kansas, it’s doing even better than that nationwide."

Maybe that's right. Maybe it's not.

The Kansas vote was odd in that voters were asked to choose between the status quo and something the state's lawmakers might do in the future. Had an alternative to the status quo been defined as a policy one could read and consider, the voters might have cast their ballots differently.

When other states make abortion policy in the future, through their legislatures or at the ballot box, there will be concrete legal language before them. The Kansas vote just isn't comparable.

Also, those votes will have different people running the campaigns, they'll be happening in different contexts, etc.

The idea that The New York Times can play oracle, reading the chicken bones of the Kansas vote to make a solid prognostication on how things will go around the rest of the country, is absurd.


But let's play along. Just for a moment.

For what it's worth, the Times predicts that 53% of North Dakotans would support a ballot initiative protecting abortion rights. This brings us to an important question: the wishcasting of liberal national news reporters aside, would North Dakotans cast their ballots to change the near-total state ban on abortion that's set to take effect later this month?

If the right proposal were in front of them, I think they would.

If the pro-choice crowd can marshal some of their more extreme views and offer a reasonable compromise — say, a ban on abortion after 12 weeks with some exceptions, something that would restrict abortion without completely eliminating access — a majority of North Dakota voters could very well go for it.

Now that Roe v. Wade is no more, and the democratic process has engaged, we're going to be learning a lot about how Americans feel about abortion.

I think we're going to find out that they are not nearly so pro-life or pro-choice as we've been led to believe.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
What to read next
"The inner peace that Jesus promised the faithful pulled us away from our fears of scarcity, a root motivator initiating our domination instinct over others, and helped us to realize that our neighbors were actually part of the same great big body of believers."
"The culture of agriculture in the holiday season and throughout the year needs preserving and to continue into our kids and future generations," Katie Pinke says.
From failed coups to deleted emails, "we're covering several topics today because I lack focus to concentrate on just one; evidence, I fear, of our species' plummeting IQ scores as documented in recent studies," Tony Bender writes
"The Legislature must step in and fix these problems before our acquisitive courts swipe the issue for themselves again," Rob Port writes.