As sentient beings living in what purportedly is a free society, the right to self-determination is one of our most closely held values. South Dakota is doing all it can to take away self-determination away from women, as far as reproductive rights go.
In 2005, the South Dakota legislature passed five laws restricting abortion, after a bill to ban abortion outright had failed by one vote in 2004. And new laws are virtually assured for the coming year. A 17-member abortion task force, made up largely of staunch abortion opponents, issued recommendations to the legislature earlier this month that included some of the most restrictive requirements for abortion in the country.
The report states that science defines life as beginning at conception and recommends a law that gives fetuses the same protection that children get after birth, thus banning abortion. Until such a ban, the task force recommends requiring that a woman watch an ultrasound of her fetus, that doctors warn women about the psychological and physical dangers of abortion, and that women receive psychological counseling before the abortion, among other measures.Here they go with the "science is what I say it is" approach. Does life really begin at conception? Where is this scientific evidence? Does implantation have nothing to do with it? What about gestation? You know, the nine months of what is required of the woman's body after the man's five-second contribution to the effort?
As national leaders on both sides of the abortion debate focus on the upcoming Supreme Court nomination hearings of Samuel A. Alito Jr., they are watching states such as South Dakota pass more and more restrictions that might be upheld by a newly constituted, more conservative Supreme Court.
"Samuel Alito wrote the blueprint 20 years ago on how to dismantle and eventually overturn Roe," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, referring to a memo Alito wrote in 1985 in which he mentioned passing restrictions on abortion as a way to mitigate the effects of Roe v. Wade. "If he is confirmed, Alito could cast the decisive vote that allows additional attacks on women's reproductive freedom from the states to stand."Of course, that's exactly why the man who's "pro-life" views extend to warrentless strip-searches of 10-year-old girls is just wonderful in the eyes of the religious zealots.
But Mary Spaulding Balch, director of the state legislation department of the National Right to Life campaign, said South Dakota is one of many states that have had success in passing laws the organization has been espousing for more than 30 years.
"Working within the fact that the Supreme Court said that it's legal to kill unborn children," she said, "it makes sense that you do your best to save whatever lives you can."Unborn children -- a nice, nonsensical phrase, because of course children are not children until they are born. But hey, potential children are almost children, right? Let's move the point of birth up to the point of conception. That way, women can be relegated to cow status, whose primary purpose is replenishment of the herd.