Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A South Dakotan Solution?

More on the South Dakota abortion ban from indianz.com:
When Governor Mike Rounds signed HB 1215 into law it effectively banned all abortions in the state with the exception that it did allow saving the mother's life. There were, however, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. His actions, and the comments of State Senators like Bill Napoli of Rapid City, SD, set of a maelstrom of protests within the state.

Napoli suggested that if it was a case of "simple rape," there should be no thoughts of ending a pregnancy. Letters by the hundreds appeared in local newspapers, mostly written by women, challenging Napoli's description of rape as "simple." He has yet to explain satisfactorily what he meant by "simple rape."

The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.

"To me, it is now a question of sovereignty," she said to me last week. "I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction."

I have nothing but praise for Cecilia Thunder Fire and her decision not to take South Dakota’s indefensible abortion ban lying down. But it’s important to remember that a Planned Parenthood clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation is a band-aid, it is not a complete remedy. The real problem with anti-abortion legislation, in South Dakota and elsewhere, is displacement: the outsourcing of abortion to other states, to other countries, or even to private, unsupervised bedrooms thanks to do-it-yourself online manuals.

Cecilia Thunder Fire is doing an admirable thing, stepping up to the plate in an attempt to assist the South Dakotan women who would suffer most from the abortion ban: the socially and physically disadvantaged, and the victims of violence and abuse. But she should not bear that burden alone. South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, in his statement accompanying the signing of the anti-abortion legislation, said the following:
In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them.

It’s an admirable goal, to protect “the most vulnerable and most helpless” in society, and it is one that South Dakota is failing at. Miserably.

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