Sunday, March 26, 2006

South Dakota Referendum and Pro-Choice Politics

The newly-established South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families has announced their push to put the abortion ban on the ballot for all South Dakotans in November. Healthy Families is led by sixteen legislators, doctors, ministers, and activists - a smart move, as having Planned Parenthood or NARAL run the campaign would make it harder for the effort to reach across the polarized debate to find support. And I think this will be a successful effort: even those people I know who call themselves "pro-life" are largely against the ban. Further, in the event that the ban is supported by the vote, there is still the option of challenging the illegal and unconstitutional bill in court. So - a smart move all around.

But on a personal level, I would have appreciated being asked, as an activist who served on the NARAL Board for three years, who advises the campus VOX (pro-choice) group, and who is a regular volunteer for Planned Parenthood, what *I* wanted to do. How difficult would it have been to send an email to all of us on the two pro-choice listservs in South Dakota offering the options to us and asking us to weigh in? It's what would have done, and it's why MoveOn's campaigns have been so successful. When I began to approach people to get their signatures on my referendum petition - people who are vehemently opposed to the ban - they all asked me, "is this a wise approach?" And what could I tell them? I can speculate as to why the decision was made, as I did above, and I can even conclude that it's a good idea - but I was never part of the planning, the arguments for or against this decision were never shared with me, and I still wonder if this approach is going to overshadow the November elections and frustrate efforts to get more Democrats - and women - into the legislature.

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