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South Dakota: Save The Fetus - Flog The Mommy?

April 3rd, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

Abortion opponents are an interesting lot. For years, they have argued that all abortion is wrong as it involves the taking of a life. An inability to sway the public to embrace laws that would ban all abortions seems to be leading pro-lifers to adopt an incremental approach. South Dakota appears to be the battleground of choice.

In 2006, the residents of South Dakota rejected a ballot initiative that would have banned virtually all abortions except for those necessary to save the life of the mother. The measure was soundly rejected by 56 percent of South Dakota voters.

A new initiative appears to be headed for inclusion on the 2008 ballot in November. However, this new measure provides exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the health of a woman.

When the 2006 initiative was drafted, many felt anti-abortion advocates were attempting to craft a law that would eventually reach the newly constituted…and presumably more conservative…U.S. Supreme Court.

Abortion opponents in South Dakota filed petitions this week that are likely to put an initiative on November’s ballot calling for a near-ban on abortion, renewing a contentious fight over a similar proposal in 2006.

The new language was drafted by South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long, state Rep. Roger W. Hunt (R) and 20 other lawyers. As with the 2006 initiative, passage would probably trigger a lawsuit that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court and provide an opportunity to reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

“My job is to protect the women of South Dakota,” said Leslee Unruh, executive director. If abortion rights advocates “follow what they’ve done in the past, suing, they’ll probably sue on this one, as well. We’re prepared for that; we’ve done due diligence in the preparation for this law.”

The sponsors said their polls show that a majority of South Dakotans support the initiative with the exceptions.

A woman would have to report rape or incest to police before seeking an abortion to qualify for that exception. “A woman who is the victim of incest and is 13, being raped by her father, is highly unlikely to report that,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

Opponents also said the definition of a health risk to the woman is too narrow because the language implies a doctor would have to be certain the woman’s health was threatened and excludes mental and emotional issues as health exceptions.

While I understand the arguments against abortion, I can’t help but find fault with intentional efforts to promote vague and misleading ballot measures. In their zeal to protect the unborn, their actions often punish those who have been born. For example, previous studies indicate that many women never report being raped and the same is often true for cases of incest.

Requiring these women to file a police report in order to abort a fetus that results from such heinous acts seems insensitive, if not unconscionable. It could also place children at risk should they report an incestuous assault that didn’t result in some form of protective custody or jail time for the perpetrator. Never mind that the incest victim might be in danger…by God we must protect that fetus.

What troubles me most is that these activists are frequently the same people who throw out terms like ‘the nanny state’ or rail against laws that would close loopholes that allow criminals to obtain handguns. Unfortunately, many of them believe the definition of freedom is relative or open to selective interpretation.

If I follow their tortured logic, a daughter who is raped by her father should find it easier to obtain a gun to shoot her dad than to consult in confidence with a physician about her options to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Similarly, the strategy suggests that a rapist should find it easier to have a weapon to commit his crime than for his victim to abort the resulting pregnancy.

Why not just require victims of unwanted pregnancies to face two trials…one involving the prosecution of the perpetrator…and one to present their case for terminating the pregnancy. Let’s take it a step further. Let’s require that the second trial be conducted by the victims church complete with a jury of fellow parishioners and the pastor as the presiding judge. That way they can apply God’s law and Biblical interpretation to the situation.

As to dealing with the health exception, that could be more complicated. Maybe we could revive some of the methods utilized to identify witches. Perhaps if the pregnant woman can swim across the nearest river (during the spring runoff, of course), she is healthy enough to have the baby. If she doesn’t make it (and drowns), she would have been entitled to abort the child. Yes, that sounds reasonable.

Look, I’m all for protecting the innocent. I simply think it ought to include the ones who have already been birthed…and not just the ones who believe their second amendment rights are sacred. In the meantime, I’m still watching and waiting for that pro-life gun show protest…the one where they read from the Bible and hold up ghastly pictures of murdered people.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

  1. 5 Responses to “South Dakota: Save The Fetus - Flog The Mommy?”

  2. By steve on Apr 3, 2008 | Reply

    heh… Abortion advocates always bring up the far out “what if’s” when it comes to abortion. What if dad has sex with his daughter or brother has sex with her… or some weird assed one in a million relationship. I personally don’t care about those freak show events. It’s sad but I do not dwell on it.

    I am not a religious person, nor do I have a uterus. Being a father, and seeing my son born and being a life right in front of your eyes makes me wonder why hardly no one that supports abortion recognizes that a fetus is a life when it totally is.

    I also don’t see the problem with America putting abortion up to a vote. We don’t elect judges. And policy can be changed for years with the judges the president can nominate. And then we either suffer one way or another from what side of the law we are on. I trust the American people to be able to decide on something this big. We should have the ability in our Democracy to vote on these types of laws especially something strong as taking a life and/or a law that defines our American sense of morality. And what is wrong with us widdling down a law like abortion to certain things. I believe most people including abortion advocates do not support abortion as a form of birth control. So what’s wrong with defining it? Personally… I’d still fight it for any reason but I would feel better if the right was not so broad.

  3. By Paul Watson on Apr 3, 2008 | Reply

    It’s a self-defence issue. If the woman’s welfare is at stake, she’s allowed to defend herself from the threat the embryo poses to her life or health, isn’t she? You wouldn’t want to be a gun-grabbing liberal and take her ability to defend herself away, would you?

  4. By Dusty on Apr 3, 2008 | Reply

    A fetus is “a life” when it can live outside the womb. Prior to that moment..its simply a fetus.

    That is how I, a liberal, deal with that issue steve. Which means I do not condone abortion after the fetus is viable outside the womb.

    In PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF CENTRAL MISSOURI V. DANFORTH(1) (1976) and COLAUTTI V. FRANKLIN(2) (1979), the Supreme Court made clear that viability is a medical determination, which varies with each pregnancy, and that it is the responsibility of the attending physician to make that determination.

    Some Judges are still elected too steve..sorry your not up-to-date there.

    Lay people should not be allowed to make the determination of when a Fetus is viable. Its a medical determination and should stay that way.

  5. By steve on Apr 3, 2008 | Reply

    Scott Petereson and Ray Carruth were both charged with murder of both their ex wives and unborn children. That’s two murders, not one. I am sure when you hear about someone killing their wife and unborn child on the 5 O’Clock news, you think, “I hope they fry that fucker!”

    Why is it okay for the courts to get that “extra” charge when there is a killing of both dear old mom and their “fetus”?

    And it is now the law.

    So which is it, Dusty? A life or no life?

  6. By Dusty on Apr 4, 2008 | Reply

    Why is it that you always attempt to tie an apple to an orange steve?

    One is a legislative determination with regard to a crime being committed..the other is a medical determination on viability.

    Pick a subject and stick to can not blend both of these into the same issue.

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