On September 17, 2008, the Tribal Council of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians enacted a resolution outlawing abortion on the Tribe’s reservation. The resolution states in pertinent part:
…(A)bsolutely under no circumstances will abortions be performed and allowed within any private or public facility within the boundaries of the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation and other lands under the jurisdiction of the Tribe.
The governing body faithfully believes that life is sacred and begins at the moment of conception between a man and a woman and life to be protected at all levels affirming natural law and reasoning… pro-life is a universal issue of common sense, moral righteousness for the common good of life.
Located near Belcourt, North Dakota, the Tribe’s reservation covers over 140,000 acres and the Tribe has over 30,000 enrolled members. Besides the Turtle Mountain reservation, the resolution would affect the community of Trenton, on tribal trust land in northwestern North Dakota. The area has only one hospital and clinic: the Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Facility, which is run by Indian Health Services. In general, the IHS is required to follow federal law, and federal facilities are not subject to Tribal resolutions. Neither the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service has yet received or ratified the Turtle Mountain resolution.
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