Thursday, February 23, 2006

Banned in SD

So, our legislature has banned abortion in South Dakota, except to save a woman's life.

Let's be clear about what this means. If a twelve-year-old girl is raped and becomes pregnant, she will be forced to carry the pregnancy to term and give birth unless her life is in danger. If - and it wouldn't be unusual for this to happen - having a baby at such a young age damages her body so that she is unable to ever give birth again, she will still not be allowed to have an abortion so that she might as an adult have a baby when she chooses to do so. If the rapist is the father or uncle or brother or grandfather of the girl, she will still not be allowed to have an abortion. If she is determined to be suffering severe psychological trauma as a result of the pregnancy, she will still not be allowed to have an abortion.

You want to know something even more scary? Before this legislative session even began, there had been an increase in self-abortion attempts by women across the state because ABORTION IS SO FUCKING HARD TO GET here. The restrictions on abortion that have been coming steadily since Roe v. Wade was passed, and the hostile environment in states like this one, and the mis-education and ignorance that have been spread by so-called "Right to Life" groups, have resulted in only two clinics in SD that provide abortions for the average woman (wealthy women have always been able to get abortions, and this new legislation won't change that).

(Incidentally, when I write "so-called 'Right to Life' groups," I'm not suggesting that all people who call themselves "pro-life" don't really care about life. But I do think that on an organizational level, "pro-life" groups don't give a damn about the lives of anyone except fetuses. They consistently oppose social programs that would help mothers and children, and they consistently ignore the realities of poverty, hunger, and homelessness in their work. I do know some people who are consistently pro-life, and I am not pointing my finger at them.)

So what we can expect to see if this legislation actually goes into effect is women dying, because banning abortion really means banning safe abortion. We've already seen the carnage that preceded Roe. We're already beginning to see it again, even though abortion is still legal, because it is, as I have said, SO FUCKING HARD TO GET. And for most of this time, the abortion rate has been declining, suggesting that fewer and fewer women are choosing to have abortions anyway.

And let me just go on the record by saying that we have now opened the door for the state to make determinations about the most sacred and personal aspects of our lives. We are creating a fundamentalist state in SD. If the religious right has its way, only heterosexually married couples will be able to obtain health insurance for their children. Teachers who answer students' questions about birth control or where to get condoms will be able to be criminally prosecuted. Pharmacists and doctors who do not wish to do so will not have to dispense or prescribe birth control pills (pharmacists already have this "right").

So - women (and men) are denied the ability to control our fertility, to determine when we cannot continue a pregnancy, to decide with whom we want to make a family.

When do they bring out the burkas?


Anonymous said...

Burka or not, you are publishing your opinion without serious, gun-related consequences.

plain(s)feminist said...

I should tell you all that the person who sent this comment disclosed themselves to me so that I wouldn't think it was some weird threat (which had crossed my mind).

The commenter's concerns, I believe, were that by making the comparison between the U.S. Gov't and the Taliban, I was minimizing the tactics and impact of the Taliban. Certainly, our gov't is not the Taliban. But I believe that decisions like the one to ban abortion, especially considering the sneaky, underhanded way in which the legislation was written and passed, are moving us in that direction. And that was the point of my post - that when we take away from women these fundamental rights to make decisions for ourselves, we are creating a government built on women's oppression.

And also, I want to add that I don't think that wearing the burka or any veil or covering is in itself oppressive. I know too many Muslim women who do so to think that. I was trying to make a point about where I think we are headed politically, and the burka has been a symbol of women's oppression under the Taliban. It's problematic, though, to use it uncritically. I hadn't meant to appear uncritical, but I suppose that point bears explanation.