Monday, March 06, 2006

South Dakota Bans Abortion

Much to my frustration, today Governor Rounds of South Dakota signed into law a state-wide ban on access to abortion except in the event that the woman's life is in jeopardy. The law would make it a felony for any doctor to perform an abortion except as a life-saving measure. The law does not ban the use of Plan B or Morning After contraception at least in the event of a woman seeking medical attention after a rape (giving Plan B is a common procedure for any woman who seeks medical attention after a rape). It's not clear whether a woman who knew she was pregnant could legally use the drug.

The law is set to take effect in June, although Governor Round explained that he did not expect it to be enacted, as Planned Parenthood has vowed to fight the law.

The legislature passed the law with the intention of having it go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Now that the court has two new jurists with conservative leanings (Alito and Roberts), the South Dakota Legislature hopes that their law will create the opportunity for the Supreme Court to overturn the precedent of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 law that granted women the right to access abortion legally.

I should note that Governor Rounds also signed another bill today that would create a fund for private donors to help pay for the legal battle ahead. The law would not require a public disclosure of who is paying the tab for the legal battle.

It's fair to say that I am pissed off. I am appauled by the actions of the overwhelmingly-male legislature (there are 3 women out of 35 Senators, and 13 out of 70 House members; None of the women Senators were sponsors of the bill, and only 6 of the 9 Republican House members were co-sponsors by my count). I must confess that I really hate it when men legislate what women can and cannot do with their bodies.

When I was growing up in S.D., the culture was very much a "keep government out of my business." It seems that in the time I've been gone, extremist Christians have taken over the Legislature in South Dakota and turned it into a zealot's dream. I'm infuriated at South Dakotans failure to pay attention to whom they are electing.

Of course, this wouldn't be an issue if Democrats had won back the Senate in 2004 or taken back the White House. The number of swing voters I've met in my neck of the woods who told me during that election that they were voting for Bush because he had moved the war on terrorism to "their" soil and felt that we should stay that course are now telling me that they wish they hadn't voted for Bush and that we should just pull out of Iraq and leave them to their own defenses.

I just want to shake them.


Rosa said...

After marching for a woman's right to choose in the early 1990s, writing letters and going to ralleys in the later years, and now hoping that a few teachings will get through to folks as they consider wider implications of what they do and believe, I am just depressed. The power that small groups of people find in government - especially small groups of people associated with big corporations and big money - is, in my opinion, taking over the power of the citizenry. How can we just let these things happen? Are WE just following orders now, too?

Rod Carveth said...

All I can say is to pray that Justice Stevens and Justice Ginsburg can last another 3 years. Right now, if the SD law came to SCOTUS, it would be ruled unconstitutional by a 5-4 decision (Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas ruling for the SD law, Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens and Souter voting against). But, one more justice like Roberts and Alito and it's game over.

When I taught in SD 1n the early 1990s, it seemed to be a moderate state. It certainly has seemed to take a hard right turn. Too bad. The average South Dakotan is one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet.