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February 27, 2006

A Quick Thought on Life in South Dakota

To be honest, I've slipped to the moderate (most common) version of "well informed," so I know only the outline detail of South Dakota's proposed anti-abortion law. Two aspects I've picked up:

  1. The law is restrictive even by pro-life standards, making an exception only for mothers whose lives are threatened by the pregnancy. Addressed as a purely political matter, this strikes me as unnecessarily antagonistic and likely to scuttle any critical mass of national support.
  2. The law is intended to be stricken down under slamming gavels and then climb its way to the Supreme Court.

All in all, it seems like a risky strategy. If the law is ultimately ruled unconstitutional, it could fortify abortion's judicial precedent, which led my first reaction to be one of dismay.

But could it be, I then wondered, that the legislation's backers fully expect to be rebuffed, but are hoping to open a new door of legal thinking in the process? Say, for example, the Supreme Court argues that, in forbidding abortion even in cases of rape, the law leaves no option for women who've done nothing to choose pregnancy (other than remaining fertile). Mightn't this open another measure of abortion laws — a pro-life loophole akin to the "health of the mother" one that the other side exploits to ensure that teenage girls who might face emotional stress must be allowed to abort their babies? In my example, the new principle (new solely in law, of course) would be that licit sex represents a choice to risk pregnancy.

I tend to be too inclined to see routes toward positive outcomes. At the very least, though, it's fair to say that, were the South Dakota law less restrictive and stricken down nonetheless, the precedent fortification would likely be stronger.

Posted by Justin Katz at February 27, 2006 9:30 PM

Pro-lifers better hope Stevens retires before this gets to the S.C., since if they take it will be struck down.

Posted by: Mike S. at February 27, 2006 10:49 PM

Here is a link to the South Dakota web page regarding recent legislation on abortion if anybody cares to research it. My opinion is that this legislation allows abortion for saving the life of the mother provided all conventional means for saving the life of both mother and child has been taken.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 28, 2006 1:27 AM

Even if I was "pro-life" rather than "pro-choice," I'd think the South Dakota strategy was remarkably reckless. No exceptions for rape or incest? Wow. The theocons sure are feeling their oats these days.

A little levity on this issue just now on the public radio show, "Whad'ya Know?" Michael Feldman says, "South Dakota lawmakers have banned all abortions, with exceptions only in the case that the parents are North Dakotans."

Posted by: Chuck Anziulewicz at March 4, 2006 11:08 AM

Hey, didn't I say the theocons are really feeling their oats these days? Here's more evidence of that, courtesy of KMOV-TV in Missouri:

By John Mills, News 4

Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion.

House Concurrent Resolution 13 is pending in the state legislature.

Many Missouri residents had not heard about the bill until Thursday.

Karen Aroesty of the Anti-defamation league, along with other watch-groups, began a letter writing and email campaign to stop the resolution.

The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs.

The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."

State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.

KMOV also contacted Gov. Matt Blunt's office to see where he stands on the resolution, but he has yet to respond.

Posted by: Chuck Anziulewicz at March 4, 2006 2:15 PM

The South Dakota bill is very pro-life. If abortion is allowed in cases of incest and rape, then it is effectively capital punishment passed onto the child for the offending parent's misdeed/crime. I doubt seriously that you would think it fair if you were to be sentenced to death because of one of your parents committed a crime.

Posted by: smmtheory at March 4, 2006 10:55 PM

I doubt seriously that you would think it fair if you were to be sentenced to death because of one of your parents committed a crime.

True, but then again I don't consider a zygote to be morally and ethically equivalent to a living, breathing human being.

Posted by: Chuck Anziulewicz at March 5, 2006 11:20 AM

Perhaps that is true that you don't consider zygotes as such, or maybe it is that you just don't consider anybody else morally and ethically equivalent to yourself Chuck.

Posted by: smmtheory at March 5, 2006 3:44 PM

It's good to see that DITL hasn't lost its readers, or the liveliness among its readers.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at March 7, 2006 3:13 PM