Monday, November 3, 2008

Ballot Watch 2008: South Dakota Abortion Ban

By Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Tomorrow, the battle for the right to choose is not just in the presidential race (although please, if you're pro-choice, make sure you vote for Barack Obama!). The issue of abortion has surfaced several times in South Dakota. In 2006, South Dakotans voted 56 to 44 percent against a law which would have outlawed all abortion in the state. The fact that the law contained no exceptions for rape, incest or cases of the mother’s health kept a large faction of the pro-life vote from falling into line, so it’s actually distressing that it got even 44 percent. This year, there is a new and improved version of the law, watered down for those crazies who think that women shouldn’t be forced to carry a child that was the product of a violent rape. The new law, Initiated Measure 11, would still make most abortions illegal, with small exceptions for rape, incest, and cases where the pregnancy would seriously endanger the mother’s health.

If the ban passes, we’re going to see a serious challenge to Roe v. Wade. And with a Supreme Court that currently leans conservative, with an elderly liberal faction (I love John Paul Stevens, but he’s 88 years old), the situation is dangerous. In 1992, the Supreme Court struck down Pennsylvania’s attempt to put an “undue burden” on women’s access to abortion, in the case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but this was before the appointment of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, the latest anti-choice additions to the bench. It is already very difficult to obtain an abortion in South Dakota; there is only one abortion provider, and doctors have to be flown in from Minnesota to perform the process, because there is such a heavy stigma attached. With the very slight loosening of the law - and really, it’s not that different from the 2006 measure - it could easily pass. The polls are tied, and 12% of voters remain undecided.

The law is a direct effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. And although I’m pro-choice, I would love to see the numbers of abortions decrease; abortion is not something which should be taken lightly. But the way to ending abortion is not through criminalizing it, especially in a state like South Dakota. Just look at the 2007 South Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Although the state accepts a significant amount of money from the federal government for abstinence-only sex education, especially considering its small population, 46 percent of South Dakota high school students have had sex. 17 percent of high school age girls in the state have had four or more sexual partners, in comparison to the national average, which is 11.3 percent. We are not going to convince women to make informed decisions about sex by criminalizing abortion and making information about contraceptives unavailable to them; this is instead a move which will consign many women to poverty. And if John McCain is elected tomorrow, this measure could have a serious impact on the right to choose throughout the United States - this is not a law which will simply disadvantage the women of a small, remote state. Pro-choice men and women, this ban is about you.


At November 6, 2008 at 3:03 AM , Blogger Roscoe said...


I would appreciate it if you did not refer to people who believe that a baby should be carried to term, even if it is a rapist's baby, as crazies. All this does is turn people off to reading what may be a good discussion about the abortion issue or whatever your post is about (I stopped reading). Please understand that there are very good arguments that are not religious or irrational. Not only do you disrespect those people that hold rational, thought-out views, you also propagate a close-minded attitude, which in my opinion is really worse than anything. Perhaps one day you will be one of those crazies, and I would hope that you can accept that, otherwise you are very much hurting whatever cause it is that you stand for. Thank you.


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