from Talk to Action
One can almost hear Mark Twain snorting in disgust.
(Image by Kafka/AP)
This week Governor Mike Rounds of South Dakota finally ended the suspense. After a prolonged, tantalizing and agonizing period of presumably sober deliberation, Rounds signed the Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act. The law protects human life beginning at "that point in time when a male human sperm penetrates the zona pellucida of a female human ovum." Unless, of course, the live human in question is a woman who wants an abortion â€“ in which case she'd better be a sodomized Christian virgin.
South Dakota State Senator Bill Napoli explained to PBS the strict criteria under which a female human in South Dakota might qualify to receive an abortion under the terms of the new statute.
BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
Hullabaloo blogger Digby tried to wrap his head around that one, but it was quite a stretch.
Do you suppose all these elements have to be present for it to be sufficiently psychologically damaging for her to be forced to bear her rapists child, or just some of them? I wonder if it would be ok if the woman wasn't religious but she was a virgin who had been brutally, savagely raped and "sodomized as bad as you can make it?" Or if she were a virgin and religious but the brutal savage sodomy wasn't "as bad" as it could have been?
Certainly, we know that if she wasn't a virgin, she was asking for it, so she should be punished with forced childbirth. No lazy "convenient" abortion for her, the little whore. It goes without saying that the victim who was saving it for her marriage is a good girl who didn't ask to be brutally raped and sodomized like the sluts who didn't hold out. But even that wouldn't be quite enough by itself. The woman must be sufficiently destroyed psychologically by the savage brutality that the forced childbirth would drive her to suicide (the presumed scenario in which this pregnancy could conceivably "threaten her life.")
Someone should ask this man about this. He seems to have given it a good deal of thought. I suspect many hours have been spent luridly contemplating the brutal, savage rape and sodomy (as bad as it can be) of a religious virgin and how terrible it would be for her. It seems quite clear in his mind.
Quite clear, Digby, sir. Perhaps it is your lucid logic that stands in the way of understanding, when what's called for in these circumstances are the clarity of faith and the fog of fantasy..
Both the mind and conscience of Governor Rounds are clear, and he has encouraging words for anyone whose vision of our country's future is still a little cloudy.
For those individuals that would feel discouraged that say, "Gee, we could have eliminated Roe v. Wade, but we've never had an opportunity in the last 15 years to do so," this is an opportunity to say, "See, there it is. The court may or may not, but it'll take us three years to find out." In the meantime, let's continue to work at chipping away at Roe v. Wade one step at a time.
And the good Lord knows he's not alone. Plenty of other men of faith in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia are introducing the same kind of criminalizing bans in their own states, all with the intent of ending the right to legal -- and therefore safe -- abortion through the courts.
The denizens of the Mississippi House are clear, almost to a man, that they must end abortion once and for all, because they have faith that it is what God wants.
The Mississippi bill would allow abortions only if a woman's life were in danger or if a pregnancy were caused by rape or incest. The exceptions for rape and incest were not in the Mississippi bill when it emerged from a committee early last week. They were added during a lengthy debate in the full House.
"If your father raped your sister, would you want her to carry that baby to term?" said Rep. Erik Fleming, D-Clinton. "If your uncle raped your sister, would you want her to carry that baby to term?"
Rep. Warner McBride, D-Courtland, pointed toward the teenage girls paging in the Mississippi House the day of the debate. He said if one of them should become pregnant because or rape or incest, "I don't think it is the place of the state of Mississippi" to tell them what to do about the pregnancy.
"I think that is between them and their Lord," said McBride, who, like Fleming, voted for the final version of the bill.
As much as one might sympathize with the anxiety of Mississippi legislators who must leave their little sisters at home with less religiously reliable male relatives when they point their cars toward Jackson, some of their colleagues are men of yet a sterner and more anthropological brand of faith.
Republican Rep. Joey Fillingane (right) told the Biloxi Sun Herald that he believes it's wrong to allow abortion even in cases of rape or incest because "the product of that union is not of a criminal. The product is of God."
Fillingane seems to be forgetting the imperative contribution of the "male human sperm" -- unless his faith has informed him that a male human sperm and God have more in common than biologists suppose. When the debate in Jackson was over, it still remained unclear whether Our Father and a teenage page's daddy were one and the same.
Back in South Dakota, prominent anti-choice activist Leslee Unruh, founder of the Abstinence Clearinghouse and director of the Alpha Center (a crisis pregnancy center in Sioux Falls) has been an ardent supporter of the total abortion ban, and responded to the news that Rounds had signed it into law by burbling, "It's party time today. ... "I'm smiling. I am so happy. I want to thank God, and I want to thank Governor Rounds."
While she's handing out the hosannas, she also might thank her husband, Dr. Allen Unruh (a chiropractor), who played a prominent role in the production of the South Dakota Task Force Abortion Study that served as a set-up for the current legislation. Sen. Stan Adelstein was quoted as saying, â€œWe found that the majority report was basically a religious document godly founded very unscientific actually in some cases untrue.â€? He, Dr. Maria Bell and others walked out in disgust before the presentation of the report was over.
Although even some avowedly anti-choice lawmakers refused to countenance the ludicrously inaccurate conclusions of the task force, Dr. Allen Unruh blandly remarked, â€œThere was no provision by the South Dakota legislature for a minority report. I mean in the legislature if you lose on an issue you don't get two or three people to say well we're going to prepare our report and give it to the governor, you just lose you lose.â€?
By all reports, Dr. Unruh isn't always so ill-humored. In some quarters, he's considered to be a funny guy who really knows how to lighten up. In fact, the Christian-oriented vanity publishing house Xulon Press will be happy to sell you a copy of his comedy classic, The 1st Clean Sex Quote and Joke Book. And I'd be willing to bet you right now that there's not a single sodomized Christian virgin joke between its covers.
Leslee Unruh and the joke doctor both have a long history in the so-called "pro-life" movement. But just one of her contributions alone has been something really special.
Abstinence Cleaaringhouse founder Leslee Unruh has close ties to the pro-life establishment. She spent most of the '80s protesting outside abortion clinics and encouraging people to protest outside the homes of physicians who provide abortions. She also started a "crisis pregnancy center" in Sioux Falls, S.D., about which there were so many complaints that the governor had her investigated. Unruh pleaded no contest to unlicensed adoption and foster care practices as part of a plea bargain in which 19 charges, including four felonies, were dropped. The charges resulted from Unruh's promises to pay teenagers if they remained pregnant so she could put their babies up for adoption. Tim Wilka, one of the state's attorneys at the time, explained, "There were so many allegations about improper adoptions being made [against her] and how teenage girls were being pressured to give up their children," he says. "Gov. George Mickelson called me and asked me to take the case."
But Governor Mickelson isn't sitting in Pierre anymore, and if Governor Rounds and the Unruhs have their way, it appears that before long there will be lots and lots more babies available for adoption in South Dakota.
Senator Napoli provides a clear vision of the society that South Dakota might once again become.
When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn't allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again.
I don't think we're so far beyond that, that we can't go back to that.
Dr. Miriam McCreary hopes that women unfortunate enough to miss out on a shotgun wedding might still have a second chance to rebuild their lives. That is why she is still traveling long distances every week to provide abortion care to women who can't seek help from a doctor close to home â€“ like the women and girls of South Dakota..
DR. MIRIAM MCCREARY, M.D.: I just remember from my practice how desperate women were, and I just wanted to be available to give them a safe abortion. There are doctors who can't do this, emotionally, possibly. But for me, I put myself in their position, and I want to treat them the way I'd want to be treated myself.
Gee, "do unto others." That sounds almost, oh, I don't know . . . Christian, doesn't it?
Mark Twain once observed, "I admire the serene assurance of those who have religious faith. It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces."
While they might not yet have all four aces in their hands, there seem to be a great many people upon whom religious faith has conferred not only serene assurance, but total amnesia. God forbid that â€“ in their blind faith that they alone know his will â€“ they should force us to relive a tragic and bloody past.
Twain also remarked that, "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt," and that "under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer."
Amen, Mr. Clemens. Amen.