Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fallout in South Dakota: The Online How-To Abortion Manual

Now available for the women of South Dakota: a detailed online abortion manual. This is the kind of thing that makes me really, truly wonder how much the people of South Dakota, and pro-life advocates nationwide, have thought through anti-abortion legislation like the piece enacted signed in South Dakota last month.

The thought of women performing abortions on themselves, or with the help of lay assistants in the privacy of their own home, is a fearful one. Of course, I don’t fault Molly Saves the Day for putting the information out there: I’m sure she’s not the first one, and nothing is to be gained from hiding the ball.

But here’s the real question: what do pro-life advocates truly hope to gain by banning abortion? A reduction in the overall numbers of abortions performed? Perhaps. But unquestionably at the expense of the health and safety of countless women and, regrettably, infants born after botched abortions.

For a glimpse into a hypothetical future where a South Dakota-esque stance on abortion is the governing law on the land, we need only look to Portugal, which has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe:
Under current Portuguese law, a women can have an abortion only if her life is in danger, to protect her mental or physical health, or in cases of rape, incest or fetal impairment….

Today, roughly 40,000 Portuguese women have illegal abortions each year, according to women's rights groups. Thousands more go abroad for the procedure, including to neighboring Spain, where the abortion law is interpreted far more liberally.

Moreover, pro-choice groups assert that hundreds of Portuguese women end up in hospitals each year because of complications resulting from illegal abortions.
"The women who have abortions are the poorest, the youngest, the oldest, the violence victims," said Maria Jose Magalhaes, a Porto-based member of UMAR, a women's rights lobby group. "The others -- the middle class, the literate women -- they have other possibilities," including access to private clinics staffed by competent medical personnel.

And, in case anybody needed reminding, the abortion laws in Portugal are actually less restrictive than in South Dakota, where there is not even an exception in cases of rape.

Unfortunately, it seems all too plausible to suggest that in their ardor for “winning” the abortion battle, pro-life enthusiasts have failed to consider what would happen if and when they “won.” And we all know, in an ongoing lesson that is now entering it’s fourth year, that simply declaring “mission accomplished” is not enough.

[Note: Many thanks to sugiero for drawing my attention to this story]

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