Tuesday, February 28, 2006

First they go after the right to choose... what's next? A woman's right to vote?

Ok... so what are they trying to do in South Dakota? Roll us all the way back to the stone age, slowly but surely? I'm sure most of you have heard the scary news of the newly anointed abortion law that was recently passed there, but due to my shock and horror, I've decided to present the details here:

I had heard rumblings for some time that a major anti-abortion bill was in the works, and on Friday, February 24, 2006 (a dark day for women everywhere- whether you're anti- or pro-choice), the South Dakota State Legislature passed a law (which apparently the Governor is disinclined to veto...) which outlaws all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest UNLESS the life of the woman is in direct medical jeopardy (ie- threats of suicide ain't gonna sway the government of South Dakota.) On top of this, doctors who flout this new law could be sentenced to up to five years in prison for performing an abortion.

This law, once it is signed, will be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, which, most of you will know, was the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws in the US. Thus, it will be challenged in court. Good.

The problem here is that the law has been crafted in such a way as to allow it to stay in place whilst said challenge is underway... dammit. What's more, and this is really, truly scary for women of the US, when this case does make it to the Supreme Court, what if the now-higher-content-Republican Court (given Bush's TWO appointments) finds in favour of South Dakota? Wow, that's a dangerous precedent to set. I'm not even sure of the mechanics of how or if that could happen, but I'm sure the possibility is there.

Perhaps this was the purpose all along... find one of the most socially conservative states in the country (with a low abortion rate taboot- ~800 per year are performed and there is only ONE legal abortion clinic in the whole damn state), get the Legislature to pass a massive anti-abortion law (knowing full well that it will be challenged under Roe v. Wade), and then let the judicial system do its work in the hopes that the courts will find in favour of the anti-choice lobby and the State of South Dakota...

True-this does not have a direct affect on those of us that don't live in the US, but (I say again) it does set a dangerous precedent. Canadians can take comfort in the fact that an anti-abortion law here would have to get through the Canada Health Act as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms before it could be enacted... and that's not a very likely scenario right now, given the composition of our government and the Supreme Court. Thank goodness.

That said, the very existence of the South Dakota law sends shivers up my spine. Some women just cannot afford to have a baby, whether financially or socially (and unfortunately, this is a responsibility that is ultimately borne by women). Why should a woman be forced to carry to term and give birth to a child that she knows, from day one, she can't support? Never mind the intense social stigma of being a single or unwed mother- you know it's still there. And don't even try to quote the birth control argument to me- accidents DO happen, and what if you can't afford birth control? Should you just never have sex? Right.

Don't they know that no matter what the state says, women are still gonna have abortions??? They always have... but when it's not state sanctioned, women are forced to get creative, and that's when abortions become truly dangerous. Conjure images of bent clothes-hangers, dirty knives, lye (LYE!!), and women throwing themselves down stairs in an effort to self-abort.


See a very informative post here for more information on this, and also, for fiction-based-on-fact tales of pre-legal abortion situations, The Cider House Rules by John Irving (the book, not the movie), and the movie Vera Drake are good representations of what I'm talking about. (Vera Drake also does a fantastic job of highlighting the class divide when it comes to abortion.) We have to take action here! This is our past, but if we don't speak up, it may also be our future. And that's a truly horrifying thought.



At 7:54 AM, Blogger Thérèse said...

This really gets my goat.

I mean, if I had a goat, it would.

And if that expression means what I think it means, it does.

At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Donna said...

That makes me seriously naseous. Does that mean that if the Supreme Court rules in favor, that the whole country would follow the same ruling? Or just in South Dakota?

Either way, it's a horrifying step backwards in civilization!

I'm appalled.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger jenn said...

If the Supreme Court ruled in favour of South Dakota, it would set a new precedent which would effectively override Roe v. Wade, and therefore open the way for other states to pass anti-abortion laws at their leisure. It's very scary, especially consdering the fact that the US (and the world, really) is run by rich white men... and I seriously doubt they've ever had to deal with abortion face to face...

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous laura said...

Its scary, sick, disgusting, and draconian. what a bunch of ideological _______ insert profane insult here.

At 3:19 PM, Blogger sarah said...


At 4:48 AM, Blogger Jay said...

That's way not cool. The world is sliding backwards.

At 4:58 AM, Blogger jenn said...

Laura- amen to that. I rather enjoyed trying out all the different four-letter-words that I have in my lexicon... is that a bad thing?

Sarah- it's true- there are no words.

Jay- I think it's time that we women quickly reviewed the finer points of the following:
- making candles
- spinning and weaving textiles
- how to function as a 'non-person'
when the state rolls back our
status as 'people under the law'.
That way we'll be at least a little bit prepared the next time the middle ages come up and bite us in the ass.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger sarah said...

Really the Middle Ages weren't so bad. People were too concerned about avoiding plague and Protestants to worry about issues like abortion. A lot of women were allowed to work! Sadly, it almost seems that "modern" times were more restrictive.

But I know what you mean...


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