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February 22, 2006

South Dakotan Anti-Choicers Gearing up for Roe Challenge

Shakes here… Fasten your seatbelts. We’re in for quite a ride, I fear.

Lawmakers here are preparing to vote on a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions in South Dakota, a measure that could become the most sweeping ban approved by any state in more than a decade, those on both sides of the abortion debate say.

If the bill passes a narrowly divided Senate in a vote expected on Wednesday, and is signed by Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican who opposes abortion, advocates of abortion rights have pledged to challenge it in court immediately — and that is precisely what the bill's supporters have in mind.

Optimistic about the recent changes on the United States Supreme Court, some abortion opponents say they have new hope that a court fight over a ban here could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion legal around the country.

"I'm convinced that the timing is right for this," said State Representative Roger Hunt, a Republican who has sponsored the bill, noting the appointments of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the court.

…[Referencing] conjecture that Justice John Paul Stevens, 85, might soon retire, [Mr. Hunt added], "I think it will all culminate at the right time."

Bravo, Mr. Hunt. What an impressive victory this could mean for you, being the man who stopped safe and legal abortions in America. But make no mistake, sir—even if you succeed, you won’t be stopping abortion.

Even if your own state, where people just like you have managed to intimidate every last doctor in the state into not performing the procedure, it hasn’t stopped women who want control over their own bodies and lives from getting abortions.

In this state of some 770,000 people, about 800 abortions are performed each year, nearly all at one clinic in Sioux Falls. Several years ago, the political atmosphere in South Dakota became such that no local doctors felt comfortable performing abortions…so doctors are now flown in from Minnesota.

Banning safe and legal abortions and criminalizing doctors who perform them won’t stop abortions. Women with unwanted pregnancies will go to underground clinics, seedy hotel rooms, the proverbial back alleys—because of the truth that anti-choicers cannot bring themselves to face.

When a woman does not want to be pregnant, the drive to become unpregnant can turn into a force equal to the nature that wants her to stay pregnant. And then she will look for an abortion, whether it's legal or illegal, clean or filthy, safe or riddled with danger. This is simply a fact, whatever our opinion of it.

There are women who would give anything to be pregnant. These women we understand. They go through tests and take hormones and subject themselves to round after round of costly fertility treatments, all in the pursuit of pregnancy and babies of their own. We have compassion for them. We sympathize when their hopes are dashed, and celebrate when their goal is achieved. They are, after all, seeking to fully realize their womanhood, and that is to be applauded.

But what of the women who would give anything not to be pregnant? These women have neither our understanding nor our compassion. They have instead our judgment. Why did you have sex if you didn’t want a child? Why can’t you just carry the pregnancy to term and give up the baby for adoption? We speak of women who seek abortions as a caricature that makes disdaining abortions justifiable—a callous, irresponsible slut, who could have that baby if she really wanted to, but her jet-setting career and martinis are just more important to her. Not 14-year-olds, or victims of rape or incest, or women whose birth control failed, or mothers who simply can’t afford one more mouth to feed, or women who have just been left by the men who impregnated them, or women whose lives are in danger, or women who made a mistake and don’t want to pay for it with the rest of their lives. No, we don’t think of them, because it wouldn’t be quite as easy to think of women who seek abortions as heartless, selfless wenches who reject their womanly destiny to mother, who deserve our disdain.

What is there to celebrate, really, in banning abortion? Will it stop ill-formed 14-year-olds from having unprotected sex? Will it stop rape? Will it stop birth control from failing? Will it stop married couples who don’t want any more children from having sex? Will it stop mistakes? No, not in this imperfect world. It will mean more crime, more unnecessary injuries and deaths, more women left sterile, more unwanted children.

"The strong possibility of a third appointee sometime soon makes this all very real and very viable," Mr. Hunt added.

Let their blood be on your hands if you’re right, sir.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

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Comments

To be honest, I don't understand women who would give anything to be pregnant. Not that I don't love my kids, and I'm grateful that I was able to get pregnant and all. Still, I can't imagine why anyone would think their DNA was so important to preserve that they waste so much energy, money and heartbreak on fertility treatment. And in vitro, don't even get me started about the "pro-life" women who have in vitro. Apparently it's part of God's plan to imprison little souls in frozen zygotes for all time but not kill them. It's bizarre.

I'm polite when women talk about it, of course, because that's part of being pro-choice. But really, I don't get it. Adopt or get involved with children's lives in meaningful ways, but don't define yourself by the ability to bear biological children.

I can much more easily wrap my head around why someone would want an abortion even if I can't imagine having one except in rather extreme circumstances myself.

Posted by: Magenta | Feb 22, 2006 2:57:17 PM

I prefer "slavers" or "slavery proponents" to "anti-choice" myself.

Who came up with the "choice" language anyway? The word, in common usage, lacks the full measure of gravitas. Hair color and shoes are also matters of "choice".

"Slavery" is also a more accurate description of what is intended and desired. Marcotte's:"All our uteruses are owned by men with property rights enforced by the state."

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 22, 2006 3:19:05 PM

But what of the women who would give anything not to be pregnant? These women have neither our understanding nor our compassion.

It's not all about the woman who is pregnant. It's about the unborn child.

Marcotte's:"All our uteruses are owned by men with property rights enforced by the state."

That is just dumb.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 22, 2006 3:27:41 PM

Good point about choice Bob. That could mean about as much as choice when it comes to framing the health care debate. How about pro-autonomy?

In any case, I feel sorry for S. Dakotans, I do. But frankly I hope they do pass this. The country needs an example of how this is going to work. I know its harsh and utilitarian, but sometimes martyrs are needed. When the state gets all fucked up and the reports come rolling in, public opinion for "Automony" will be strengthened.

Disclaimer: I don't really believe in the whole martyr thing.

Posted by: Adrock | Feb 22, 2006 3:45:05 PM

It's not all about the woman who is pregnant. It's about the unborn child.

Yeah, it's about that for people who don't have to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term and have so little respect for the autonomy of women that they would confer greater rights upon a fetus than an adult, so long as that adult lacks testicles.

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister | Feb 22, 2006 3:54:59 PM

Yeah, sure Fred, it's all for the unborn. It's a shame you don't give a shit about helping them once they're here. We have one of the worst infant mortality rates in the world, and a lot of those kids are wanted, but not a bit of outrage for the lack of pre- and postnatal care. Republicans let kids die every day for the sake of lower taxes, so spare us your moral outrage.

Posted by: Stacy | Feb 22, 2006 4:03:20 PM

As far as Fred's concerned, this is all a party. Go ahead and ask him where the party is.

Posted by: nolo | Feb 22, 2006 4:15:11 PM

Republicans let kids die every day for the sake of lower taxes...

Oh, yeah, bebe.....so all we have to do is raise taxes and all of these kids will be OK, right?

What a simpleton! Please show us where there there are direct cuts in spending that causes any of this...

Oh, and nolo, I already have a girlfriend. Better luck with your offers next time.....we will always have this blog...

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 22, 2006 5:06:14 PM

Please show us where there there are direct cuts in spending that causes any of this...

In his most recent budget, Bush has slashed funding for family planning programs overseas.

President Bush, who acted on his first full day in office five years ago to deny federal aid to overseas groups that help women obtain abortions, is for the first time proposing sharp cuts in financing for international family planning programs that the White House had described as one of the best ways to prevent abortion.

Or does that not count, since it's mostly brown babies getting aborted overseas?

Well, we've got the same problem domestically, too. The flat-out refusal to fully fund comprehensive sex education programs, which provide information about abstinence and contraceptives, has a direct impact on incidents of unwanted pregnancies among younger women, which are the most likely group to seek out abortion. Teens who go through abstience-only programs are no more likely to abstain from sex until marriage than teens who go through comprehensive sex education courses, and when they do have sex, they are much more likely to have unsafe sex than their comprehensively-educated counterparts.

Globally, not making information about condom use readily available not only results in unwanted pregnancies, but increased transmission of HIV/AIDS.

If abortion opponents were so concerned about making sure that fetuses weren't aborted, they'd give at least as much time to supporting comprehensive sex education - to prevent unwated fetuses from existing in the first place - as they do to trying to ban abortion. But they don't. In fact, abortion opponents are also the strongest opponents of exclusively funding abstinence-only sex education, and the administration has followed suit.

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister | Feb 22, 2006 5:24:22 PM

It's not all about the woman who is pregnant. It's about the unborn child.

I would have a shread of respect for the anti-woman movement if they actually believed in that. If the agitators actually did things like adopt these children or offer relief and assistance to the people in these unfortunate situations or take realistic measures to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies, I might would actually start to believe that they actually care about the little zygotes and fetuses. But as it is it has only been about three solid decades of screaming at women and some smug self congradualting on the side.
I agree with the posts above, though - this is going to have to get much worse before it will get better.

Posted by: sprocket | Feb 22, 2006 5:25:25 PM

So, then, when their daughters start dying of septicaemia, what do they do then?

Posted by: Farinata X | Feb 22, 2006 5:30:37 PM

Oh, right, lack of prenatal health care has nothing to do with a high infant mortality rate, despite the many studies that show that prenatal care makes huge differences in the outcomes of pregnancy. And, of course, the lack of universal health coverage has nothing to do with a lack of prenatal care. Look at the rest of the first world, Fred, taxes spent on health care mean more live births. I'm sick of hearing about the plight of the unborn from people who don't care about the born. You're all a bunch of freaking hypocrites. Our country is dying from your unjust wars and and your greed and your insistence that any human compassion for your fellow man is socialism. It's obscene.

We had a speaker at our church just this week talking about how many children our local food bank has to feed. They feed hundreds of families a week. Forty percent of their clients are children. And 46 percent of the total number of people work. Almost none of them have any reliable health care. And they come, without food, without shelter some of them, without any access to a doctor outside. Screw you and your superior attitude. You don't believe in fixing any of it. NONE of it. You want them to continue to grovel and subsist and beg for charity. You don't want to help educate them or feed them or reach out to them in any way that might cost you a penny. But you oh so want to tell them they're immoral for not wanting to bring a child into their desperate circumstance so long as you feel secure it will never be you.

Posted by: Stacy | Feb 22, 2006 5:35:55 PM

Actually, the Catholic Church, which is one of the big promoters of opposition to abortion, runs dozens of orphanages, programs to help poor families, educational systems, programs to assist pregnant women, etc, etc. (In 2003, they spent 2.8 billion dollars on charitable activities of various kinds, in the USA)

(see http://www.catholiccharitiesinfo.org/news/statistics.htm )

Posted by: John Biles | Feb 23, 2006 12:42:28 AM

Actually, the Catholic Church, which is one of the big promoters of opposition to abortion, runs dozens of orphanages, programs to help poor families, educational systems, programs to assist pregnant women, etc, etc. (In 2003, they spent 2.8 billion dollars on charitable activities of various kinds, in the USA

Hey, they don't want to hear any of this. They want to tell you that these children would be better off dead. That the women who couldn't keep their knees together are not responsible for their own pregnancies and that every pregnant woman has the right to kill her child up until the time it gets all of it's limbs out of the vagina.
They do not want to hear about all of the religious efforts here and abroad to supply water and food and make lives better. No, they donate to airAmerica or Salon.com since they aren't Christians and that doesn't help anyone.
You liked the courts well enough when they came up with this ridiculous and dubious 'right' that no one can find in the constitution....I hope they like 'em when they look again. Good luck with that.....

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 23, 2006 9:22:49 AM

That the women who couldn't keep their knees together are not responsible for their own pregnancies

especially if they were raped, they're then responsible for their 'unplanned pregnancy", right, Freddy-boy?

Posted by: The Dark Avenger | Feb 23, 2006 10:06:04 AM

Actually, John Biles, I am aware churches do good work. My own denomination, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America does even more charity work than the Roman Catholic Church I grew up in. I am not arguing that churches cannot and do not do good work. They can and do. It does not excuse them when they advocate for horrific social policy that would kill women for having complications during pregnancy, sorry.

Fred, you know absolutely zero about me or what charities I give to. The largest single charitable deduction my husband and I take is to our church, which in turn tithes 12 percent of its money to social services of various types. But that's *charity* not good responsible social policy. It's a stopgap not a solution. Charity is not a comprehensive health care program. But you are too stupid to follow the idea that perhaps as a Christian I might actually think that when Christ called us to condemn the rich and the greedy and the money changers who have taken over the temple he might actually have meant it. And that when he called us to compassion for the unfortunate he might have meant those of whom you disapprove you self-righteous, smug sniffer of other people's underwear. Those women who "can't keep their knees together" are the ones he spent time with and helped and loved and cared for. So you stop with your lectures, because I will not be lectured by the hard-hearted and the hypocritical who call "Lord, Lord." Jesus promised we'd know his chosen by their fruits, and you won't fool me.

Posted by: Stacy | Feb 23, 2006 10:32:58 AM

Fred, does your girlfriend know you consider fellatio to be demeaning to women? Or does she just not give head?(that would explain a lot).

Posted by: nolo | Feb 23, 2006 11:41:11 AM

Fred, does your girlfriend know you consider fellatio to be demeaning to women? Or does she just not give head?(that would explain a lot).

So how is this personal attack any different than my party comment (other than mine was a lot more clever)?

Are you still the 'hurt party'?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 23, 2006 12:03:31 PM

They do not want to hear about all of the religious efforts here and abroad to supply water and food and make lives better. No, they donate to airAmerica or Salon.com since they aren't Christians and that doesn't help anyone.

Fred, I count among my friends - and support them financially when I can - people who rescue children from the sex trade in Thailand. People who put together huge shipments of medical supplies that get sent all over the world, places in the USA and outside it. People who provide rehab, counseling, job training and housing to the homeless. At different times I have either participated or even led various compassionate ministries to those in need. When we were in San Diego, my wife, along with some others, used to work with prostitutes to get them safely off the streets and away from the reach of their pimps.

So don't you fucking tell me what I fucking believe and who or what I fucking support, asshole.

I know better than you what agencies are out there; I happen to know some of the people who direct them. I know better than you what churches are doing to help people in need. And I sure as hell know just how much churches are spending on their facilities, their big-screen projection systems and their conferences on "how to reach postmodern soccer-moms in exurbia" as opposed to the amount that is given to providing help for those in need.

You are the one who wants to punish women for not "keeping their knees together." And you are the one who doesn't give a damn about a child as soon as he or she ceases to be a political football for you to toss around. For you, life begins at conception (even though you don't know what that really means) and effectively ends at birth. Guess what, dumbass? That position is not supported by the Bible. In fact, you can't make an anti-choice position based upon the Bible. Just like all of the other positions the fundies take, you have to contort and twist Scripture to make it what you want it so say.

Posted by: Stephen | Feb 23, 2006 12:06:57 PM

Stephen, I don't want to punish anyone....even the unborn. What I said was responsibility. However, in classic liberal fashion it turns into something else when repeated, a dishonest technique but one that is used frequently by the left.

My favorite one is "Why do you hate_________."

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 23, 2006 12:28:40 PM

Actually, the Catholic Church, which is one of the big promoters of opposition to abortion, runs dozens of orphanages,...etc.

True and I was going to write a response to sprocket's post pointing out the same. Noone should deny that or say it doesn't happen. But the Catholic Church also wants you to forgive their priests for molestations but at the same time FIRE women who have children out of wedlock. Its a matter of hypocrisy and focus.

The point is, that while charity exists, the focus of the abortion movement is not on providing alternatives like adoption but simply stopping the act. Their focus practically ignores everything about the event except for the fetus.

Posted by: Adrock | Feb 23, 2006 12:53:10 PM

The responsible decision is the one in which a woman and her family make.

Posted by: Adrock | Feb 23, 2006 12:58:32 PM

Did nolo take the hint and STFU?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 23, 2006 2:17:42 PM

The responsible decision is the one in which a woman and her family make.

Then I suppose you are supportive of women and families making the homeschooling decision as well? How about women and families indoctrinating their children into the fundamentalist church of their choice?
Can women make the responsible choice to drink or smoke crack while pregnant? After all, it's their bodies, isn't it?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 23, 2006 2:22:46 PM

Fred Jones,

That's exactly it, isn't it? Women might make irrepsonsible decisions while pregnant. Are you going to lock women in little rooms so that we can be proper and holy incubators? Would you have imprisoned me because I hadn't quit smoking during my first pregancy and, with the advice and consent of my obstetrician, continued to have one or two cigarettes a day because my nicotine withdrawal symptoms included suicidal depression?

Have you ever been pregnant, Fred? Have you ever felt terror because you're not entirely sure you've felt that little life you're hoping for kick? Have you ever had it kick so hard that you thought you just might die from the pain? Have you ever experienced such severe post-partum depression that you think you must be not only the worst mother in the world but the very worst person? Have you ever been terrified because the doctor can't get a head measurement and seems gravely concerned and then spent a week staying awake fearing that you have a dead, brainless thing inside of your body that might or might not ever trigger a natural labor? Have you ever had dear friends nearly die of eclampsia?

When you experience some of what we have, you can tell women how it's not about controlling women.

Posted by: Stacy | Feb 23, 2006 7:58:19 PM

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