PunditMom Two Years Ago — I’m Still Worried About South Dakota

Wed, October 29, 2008

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I’ve been taking a trip down memory lane here at PunditMom to see what I was writing about a year ago. So today, I thought I’d go back two years. Funny thing is, the topic of an abortion referendum in South Dakota was on my current list of topics to write about. Two Octobers ago, this was the state of things in that very red state …

There was a time when I was married to a man who thought that having a conversation with his wife consisted of kicking a hole in a wall and then, just for good measure, pushing me down a flight of stairs to make sure I had gotten his point.

Fortunately, it didn’t take me too long to get myself out of that situation and I thank my lucky stars frequently that we did not have any children together.

If I had found myself pregnant at that stage of my life under those circumstances — barely 20, married to a man whose violent tendencies stayed under wraps until after the vows were taken, still in college and only eeking out an existence — I know my decision about whether to have that child would be different than it would be today.

But I would still want to know that the choice was mine to make.

So I am worried about young women in South Dakota who may find themselves in a similar situation. In any other election year, the current effort to repeal the far-reaching ban on abortions in that state would be making big news and grabbing the attention of those who don’t see this as an all-or-nothing issue, but think our rights to our bodies should be preserved.

At the moment, that fight is being eclipsed by Mark Foley, school shootings and Iraq. And while I don’t mind that some of the election year focus has shifted from so-called “values” issues, what’s happening with abortion laws is something we need to keep our eye on, because there’s no doubt in my mind that when we stop paying attention to issues like this, we start to lose other rights, as well.

Currently, the law in South Dakota bans all abortions with exceptions ONLY to save the life of the mother — no exception for incest or rape, no exception for a mother’s health. Pro-lifers have been rallying around this law, as well as an equally draconian law that was passed recently in Louisiana.

If the voters in South Dakota repeal the ban, that will momentarily give women back some rights to decide what happens when they get pregnant, but that’s not necessarily going to be the case for the long-term.

Because if those opposing the ban win, pro-lifers surely will come back with a new law. A repeal in November doesn’t necessarily mean Roe v. Wade rights are back to stay. This is a ball we all need to keep an eye on, because if we don’t, who knows whose state will be next? And after this, what right will it be that the government decides it can start whittling away at?

We’re already on a slippery slope to losing our constitutional habeas corpus rights, so just about anything could be next, especially when politicians claim its being done to protect us.

Now, two years later, South Dakota is trying again to outlaw abortion, but lawmakers say they have included exceptions for the health of the mother, as well as rape and incest, but there are still some serious downsides to the language, both for women and for doctors.

And there’s more bad news. There are under-the-radar attempts to significantly limit birth control options across the country — a parting shot from the current Bush administration. As we emerge from our respective electoral funks next week, take a breath and think about the issues that are important and need to be protected.

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4 Responses to “PunditMom Two Years Ago — I’m Still Worried About South Dakota”

  1. jodifur Says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this. I was also in a violent relationship and too many people believe its only low income women who are hit. Thank you for writing this.

  2. PunditMom Says:

    I don’t talk about it often, but I agree with you. It’s important for people to know it can happen to any woman at any income level in any suburb or town.

  3. Sharon Says:

    Six days. We just need to get through the next six days. Once Obama is president, we can deal with these important issues. It’s time. The electorate is motivated. We just need a leader to take us in the right direction.

  4. Francine Hardaway, Ph.D Says:

    Great post. When I got pregnant (37 years ago) abortion was legal only in California. I was impregnated by my boss, and terrified. When I found out I could have an abortion in California I was profoundly relieved, because I had taken a friend for an illegal abortion in New Jersey and then watched her bleed all the way home on the subway with me. Thank God she was okay.

    Through a long series of discussions and weighing of options, I chose to have my daughter, but I am glad I could have gone to California, and if my impregnator had not been so forthright about taking the responsibility for the child I would have.

    The ability to HAVE A CHOICE was one of the most important moments in my life even though I chose NOT to have an abortion.


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