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.