North Dakota’s Pro-choice Republican Is ‘Terrified’

By
Photo: James MacPherson

Being a pro-choice Republican is probably pretty lonely, but nowhere more so than in North Dakota, where this year the state legislature passed the strictest, most unconstitutional abortion regulations in the country. Salon talked to North Dakota state representative Kathy Hawken, a Republican representing Fargo, who does not understand how the party of personal responsibility — that “would not vote for a seatbelt law, or a stricter D.U.I. law” — suddenly now “will vote to curtail women’s healthcare.” She's here to confirm that, yes, there is a religiously motivated war on women and it is betraying her party's values.

There is no thought given to whether they are interfering with the doctor-patient relationship, whether there’s a problem with the woman’s ongoing health. Those things are totally thrown out with the kind of legislation that’s been put forward this year. It’s terrifying. And if women were doing this to men, it wouldn’t happen. Or for that matter, if men had babies, it wouldn’t happen.

[...]

And there’s so much more to women’s health than simply having children. What is happening now goes well beyond that. They’re really putting women back centuries. It’s terrifying.

[...]

People say, 'No, this is not a war on women,' but I don’t know how else to explain it. It is a control of women.

Hawken is also concerned about the legislature’s demonstrated lack of interest in those kids after they’re born.

[W]e cannot pass prenatal health care, we could not expand in our state children’s health care [...] the preschool education, child care immunizations — those kinds of bills do not move forward. We couldn’t put $300,000 into helping developmentally disabled people in our state get access to extended care hours, but we could fork over — and it’s gonna be millions in North Dakota, because we got several of them — legal fees to defend these blatantly unconstitutional laws in court? For a good fiscal conservative, it’s really a ridiculous road to go down. If you tick off the things on the list — the financial piece, the personal piece — it’s amazingly disconnected from reality.

Hawken won’t be running for reelection, but she advised her fellow Republicans to stay out of people’s personal lives. “None of us have gone to medical school, and for that matter, not many of us have gone to law school. We shouldn’t be there. We should let church do what church does, and we, as lawmakers, should do what we do. These things shouldn’t as intertwined as they are.”