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South Dakota is up to it again. A petition has been filed with the Secretary of State to put an iniative on the ballot next year to ban all abortions EXCEPT in instances of rape, incest, or the health of the mother... supposedly. I'm not sure if this news has been diaried already--but if it has it bears repeating!

cross posted at USD DemsUSD Dems

According to the Argus Leader...

South Dakotans trying to outlaw most abortions in the state filed a proposed initiated law Friday that bans abortions but includes exceptions for rape, incest and the mother's health.

A 2006 proposal that passed the Legislature but was rejected by voters would have allowed abortions only if the woman's life were in danger.

Supporters of the new petition now must gather 16,776 signatures of registered voters by April 1 to add an initiated measure to the Nov. 4 general election ballot, said Elections Supervisor Kea Warne.

So basically the 2006 ban (which won by 12 points, 56/44) has been retooled to allow for rape, incest, and health exceptions. I'm somewhat skeptical that the language, which hasn't been released, actually grants such exceptions so I'll believe it when I see it. At any rate, this seems to be a ban on all "birth control" abortions.

Each side has its own valid points about abortion. I am choosing not to get into that side of the debate as I am ambivalent on the issue myself-- I see abortion as a debate on where to arbitrarily draw the "right to life" on the continuum of life. But whatever.

So, rather than regurgitating the expected points about how the choice of having an abortion is a good thing, I would rather spend time talking about other aspects of the ban. For one, I'm somewhat irritated that South Dakota has become "ground zero" in the abortion/culture war. Strategically, its a good choice. (1) We have an open initiative process, (2) we're culturally conservative and 93) it doesn't cost a lot of money to run a campaign here. Since anti-aboritonists want to run a state's anti-abortion law (or should I say any state's anti-abortion law) up to the Supreme Court eventually, it makes sense that they would choose such an "easy to win" state like South Dakota to pass such a law.

But its really pretty annoying. First of all, imagine how we look to the rest of the country... nay, the world... when they look at our state and see that we tried to ban abortion WITHOUT an exception for health of the mother, rape or incest in 2006. Who knows what kind of language the new bill will contain... perhaps similar conclusions will be drawn about this modified bill.

Its also irritating that a special interest group has decided to keep ramming down modified versions of the law down our throats. I have little doubt in my mind that if we reject this initiative, that a similar one will pop up in 2010 with similar language or some small concession. That doesn't really seems like democracy-- repeatedly suggestioning similar versions of an unpopular bill until it passes. It sounds like abuse of our system.

The pro-legalized-abortion side of the issue already seem to be capitalizing on this strategic element of the bill. According to the previously cited Argus Leader article, Jan Nicolay, chairperson of the Healthy Families campaign and former lawmaker, suggested that, "voters instead want leaders to work on education, economic development and health care." She also suggested that people would like to work on abortion prevention rather than an outright ban. I'd like to echo that sentiment.

According to a recent report, the rate of abortions in South Dakota has indeed dropped last year from its already relatively low abortion rate. Also according to the report, the two most commonly sited reasons for having an abortion are (1) child not desired and (2) can't afford child. It seems like the anti-abortionists are focused exclusively on the former-- those using abortion as a form of birth control. In reality, I find the second choice to be more tragic-- people having abortions because they can't afford a baby.

I would like to reach out to anti-abortionists, who may have more in common with pro-legal-abortionists and ambivalent persons such as myself than they might think. Why not split your energy between the two causes? Or focus on the more pragmatic cause of abortion prevention? We could begin to acheive this by demanding a higher minumum wage, more funding for health care, and financial assitance to families with children.

Originally posted to Tetris on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 06:34 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why so mealy-mouthed???? (6+ / 0-)

    " I am choosing not to get into that side of the debate as I am ambivalent on the issue myself-"

    Look, a woman is a live person.  She's got a right to decide what goes on in her body.  What can't you get about that???

    And anyway, why do people think that gracing the world with unwanted children is a good thing?  It's not.  

    In short, women need support and you should be giving it to them without apology.

  •  these people just don't quit (9+ / 0-)

    they'll keep pushing and pushing and pushing until they get what they want: total abortion bans, and with NO exceptions. Birth control will be their next target. Some segments of the pro life movement won't be happy until America has been dragged back to the 12th century.

    Is that a rhetorical question?

    by Pan Zareta on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 06:47:05 PM PST

    •  and that's the big thing. (7+ / 0-)

      People ask "so what it's just abortion?" but it's NOT just abortion.  These people won't be happy until they've outlawed birthcontrol and probably In Vitro fertilization as well (since that kills so many embryos).

      This is not just about abortion.  This is about a mindset of authoritarianism that has no place in American law.

      •  Nah, they won't ban IVF (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        exNYinTX

        The don't actually give a flying crap about the embryos, life, human rights, morality or any of that stuff. They just want to stop people from having extramarital and/or non-procreative sex. IVF is their dream: procreation without sex, in a heavily medicalized environment where nobody has any fun and corporations make tons of money.

        During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

        by kyril on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 10:28:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  maybe they want to turn us all into baby (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moiv, kyril

      factories for infertile fundamentalist couples.

      •  That is indeed the impetus (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        decembersue

        behind the ubiquitous legislative measures pushed by both parties that actively promote "adoption as an alternative to abortion." The Catholic Church was a major backer of the 2006 ban, will of course support this one as well, and the Church -- which maintains that it is always best for children to be raised in a two-parent home -- strongly endorses adoption arrangements for the newborns of unmarried women.

        Even so, codifying such proposals does nothing to reduce the rate of abortion, as detailed recently by the LA Times.

        Politicians from both parties frequently promote tax credits and other incentives to ease the way for adoptive parents to demonstrate that they want to "do something" about abortion. Facilitating adoptions, especially of hard-to-place children, deserves our strong support. But it does nothing to affect the abortion rate. To assert that it does is either ill-informed or simply cynical, and it should stop.

        Meanwhile, we know that very few women actually place their infants for adoption. In the United States, fewer than 14,000 newborns were voluntarily relinquished in 2003 (the latest year for which an estimate is available), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That proportion -- just under 1% of all the children born to never-married women -- has remained constant for almost two decades. It's down considerably from the early 1970s, but even in those days, more than nine in 10 unmarried women who gave birth kept their babies.

        The 2003 infant relinquishment figure is minuscule when compared to the almost 1.3 million abortions that took place that year. And even then, it would be wrong to assume that every one of those relinquishments actually averted an abortion. Many women placing their baby for adoption may never have considered abortion in the first place.

        Among the main explanations cited in the HHS report for decline in relinquishments since the '70s are that "the increased social acceptance of single parenthood has led more unmarried women to keep their children" and that "a higher proportion of unmarried mothers are in their 20s rather than their teens, so the personal and financial stresses may not be as great as in the past." More important, the researchers do not consider abortion to be a significant factor and suggest that "the decline in abortion rates shows that the decline in relinquishment is not a result of increasing selection of abortion over relinquishment."

        Politicians of all stripes, and whatever their position on abortion, should face reality. Increasing the rate of completed adoptions, however valid on its own merits, is irrelevant to the abortion rate. And increasing the rate of newborn relinquishments, even assuming it could be done in an ethically and socially acceptable way, at best would be tinkering at the margins. Even if relinquishments doubled, and each one of them represented an averted abortion, it would make hardly a dent in the abortion rate.

        The TEA Fund: Practicing random acts of kindness to women

        by moiv on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 11:17:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Imprisonment without consensus (6+ / 0-)

    That's where I come from.  How can you put a person in prison when there is no consensus that the act is a crime worthy of prison?  There is a consensus that rapists murderers thieves burglars arsonists etc commit crimes and can be put behind bars, but there is no such consensus for abortion.

    And these people want to put the doctors behind bars but not the women?  Do they think women have the minds of eight year olds and should no more go to prison than eight year olds?  What paternalistic crap.  If that's how they feel, why don't they advocate repeal of the 19th Amendment?

    Legally, when - and with Kennedy likely to join Alito Scalia Thomas and Robert it is when - the Supreme Court repeals Roe v. Wade, I see big time 14th Amendment equal protection problems with criminal laws that only treats one of the two "crimnals" as felons, not that Thomas Alito Roberts Scalia would care.

    At any rate, putting the doctors behind bars, and letting the women who terminate their pregnancies go free, will be a big boon to coat hanger manufacturers.

    "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars." William Jennings Bryan

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 07:01:01 PM PST

    •  They don't want to follow this to the logical... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moiv, hairspray, Navy Vet Terp, Lujane, kyril

      ...conclusion.  Becuase the logical conclusion is ridiculous.

      If abortion is murder, then the women getting abortions are either murderers or guilty of conspiring to commit murder.   But throwing women in jail for trying to get an abortion doesn't look good in the public eye so they want to gloss over that.

      What about In vitro fertilization?  That kills embryos too.  are we going to outlaw THAT?  How many hundreds or thousands of women every year who otherwise couldn't conceive would be denied becuase of the possiblity of excess embroys going unused and destroyed?

      No one in the anti-abortion side ever talks about THAT.  becuase it's not PC.  It projects a negative public image.  But, it is the logical conclusion for their policies.

    •  great point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hairspray

      I never thought about the "consensus versus abortion" and "consensus versus murder" angle. Although, to be honest, there is a bit of a difference because the penalty for committing abortion is nowhere near as bad as that for murder.

      That said, it is a sticky issue and I fall back on my social libertarian instincts regarding abortion. Let people decide whether its immoral in such a gray area as abortion.

      Can't you see that no one can defeat the man who throws the Tetris piece?

      by Tetris on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 09:22:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's no such consensus (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moiv

      for quite a few crimes. Drug possession? Use? Sales? First offense DUI? Juvenile offenses/12-year-olds tried as adults? Statutory rape of the consensual, homosexual, close-age-range variety, when similar heterosexual acts are ignored or punished with probation? Nonviolent/minimally violent crimes committed by the untreated mentally ill? I don't see the wingnuts having a problem with adding yet another to that list.

      During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

      by kyril on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 10:35:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What Should Be Noted (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moiv, hairspray, bluebrain, kyril

    and what the Argus Leader failed to mention is that their own poll from July 2006 showed a significant majority (approximately 2 to 1) in support of an abortion ban if it included just these additional exceptions.  I don't have a direct link anymore, but I referenced the poll in this comment.

  •  I thought the 2006 ban failed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hairspray, kyril

    at the polls.

  •  Also, Louisiana (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moiv, Lujane, kyril

    Already has a trigger law that will take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

    openthread is a sockpuppet.

    Huckstered by August J. Pollak

    by TruthOfAngels on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 07:35:26 PM PST

    •  Wisconsin's proposed "PBA" ban (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TruthOfAngels

      seems redundant, since a Supreme Court ruling already has banned the so-called "partial birth abortion" at the federal level.

      So why is anyone bothering to introduce it in Madison? Because the new definition of "PBA" in the Wisconsin ban would criminalize virtually all abortion procedures at any stage of pregnancy.

      No health exception

      The bill would make it a felony to perform a partial-birth abortion, which is defined as an abortion in which "the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother (or) any part of the fetal truck past the navel is outside the body of the mother. "

      It provides an exception for procedures that are necessary to save the life of a mother and allows doctors charged with a violation to seek a hearing before the state medical examining board to determine if that was the case.

      The bill also lets married fathers and the parents of minor girls sue doctors in certain cases where a the procedure is performed.

      It is difficult, if not impossible, to complete an abortion procedure unless the fetus leaves the woman's body at some point. I haven't seen any published commentary about that bit of legislative deception, but it's hard to overlook.

      The TEA Fund: Practicing random acts of kindness to women

      by moiv on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 11:31:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You can't ban abortion "except" to protect (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catullus, moiv, Tetris, kyril

    the life of the mother. Any widespread ban on abortion will make it effectively impossible to get under any ordinary circumstance, and doctors will be so skittish they will be reluctant to declare the procedure necessary, biasing against proper treatment.

    A widespread ban on abortion is not just an assault on the basic rights of women it is, no matter how "generous" the language, going to KILL WOMEN.

    And I haven't even started talking about the inevitable tidal wave of illegal abortions, which would kill even more...

    I can tell you right now, if they pass something like this, I (a Minnesotan) will cross the Black Hills off my list of potential vacations.

    •  The same goes for abortion bans... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decembersue

      "except" in the case of rape. If a woman is seeking an abortion under this exception, how is the doctor going to know if the woman has been raped? All the doctor will know is that the woman is pregnant, not how it happened. Maybe the woman will have a police report showing that she reported a rape, but probably not, as a large percentage of rapes go unreported. And even if the rape has been reported, it often takes the police months to apprehend a perpetrator, if indeed they are able to catch anyone at all. And even if the police have arrested a suspect, rape trials take months to prosecute. Meanwhile, the victim will need the abortion quickly -- within weeks of the rape -- but will inevitably have to wait many months for the police and courts to resolve to the criminal complaint. What doctor is going to risk a murder charge by giving a woman an abortion given these uncertainties?

  •  tips (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    killjoy, catullus, moiv, kyril

    ...I thought I created one earlier :S

    Can't you see that no one can defeat the man who throws the Tetris piece?

    by Tetris on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 09:23:14 PM PST

  •  this could get interesting.... (0+ / 0-)

    I think you're underestimating the need to demonstrate and prove their "righteousness" on the part of the reactionaries.

    The Christian Right is also deeply hurt by the 2006 defeat.  It needs to make up for it.  Their game is to get this referendum passed, then to restrict or annul the exceptions via the legislature and further referenda.  It's not that they stop halfway.

    It may be fate that it goes to the federal courts and ends up in Tony Kennedy's hands.  I doubt the Roberts Supreme Court will issue a disaster of a verdict that won't stand, that may well get a Constitutional Amendment that overturns them going.

    Renewal. Not mere reforms.

    by killjoy on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 11:27:40 PM PST

    •  My fear (0+ / 0-)

      is that this will pass.

      The pro-choice majority really over covers abortion for rape and incest. It seems to me that if it has to be readily available in order to legalize it for rape and incest, then we have a pro-choice majority. When you exclude anything but those cases, I don't know where we stand, but I don't think it's pretty.

      Another thing I've noticed from young people is while they're much more socially liberal, their support of abortion doesn't change much from 30-50 year olds. I know plenty of anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-Christian right, pro-universal health care, pro-gay marriage twentysomethings who are also "pro-life"

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