South Dakota Outlaws Abortion

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South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed the bill that outlaws all abortions in that state except to save the life of a mother. A Chicago Tribune editorial suggests that anti-abortion campaigners may not get the result they expect:

"What South Dakota lawmakers have approved may shake some people out of ambivalence, but not in the direction the lawmakers favor. The ban allows no exceptions for rape, incest or serious dangers to the mother's health. Only when the mother's life is at risk would it be allowed. Faced with this ban, voters on the fence are more likely to be pushed toward the abortion-rights camp than pulled away from it."

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  1. Don’t worry, there’s still the sodomized virgin exception.

  2. I am neither religious nor a virgin, but I too would be quite brutalized if I experienced the scenario Phil linked to. But I guess I don’t count, huh? Rape is only traumatic for women who still had their hymens beforehand, or women who thought God was watching while it happened. The rest of us can just get fucked. Literally.

  3. Of course, this law will probably never be enforceable–a federal court will certainly enjoin enforcement until the Supreme Court gets a crack at it, and I don’t see Roe or Casey getting overturned. Still, if it were allowed, I wonder whether doctors would start finding many more mothers’ lives at risk?

  4. If previous threads are any indication, we’ll have an anti-abortion poster point out that the number of abortions given to pregnant rape victims is quite small, anyway, so this whole thing is a non-issue.

  5. Might I point out that the number of abortions given to pregnant rape victims is quite small, anyway, so this whole thing is a non-issue.

  6. Atrios had posted this about the rape exception:

    I’ve never understood the rape exception to laws forbidding abortion. Aside from it being moral gibberish, how exactly would it work in practice? Would there actually have to be a rape conviction before the exception is triggered, something virtually impossible given the rather short time horizon of pregnancy. Or would a woman simply have to claim to have been raped, and name the alleged assailant.

    I’ve never really thought that much about the rape exception, but this question does seem to be relevant.

  7. Now that that’s out of the way, my take on this is that SD is just trying to remind people that it’s still a state. Steal some of that Fargo glory back from the North.

  8. Hey, the South Dakotan lawmakers have argued that the proposed law does include an exception for rape and incest: There’s no prohibition against emergency contraception, if taken before normal medical tests could verify a pregnancy. So, even though it’s not an abortion, rape and incest victims are covered in their minds.

  9. I’ve always liked South Dakota. It’s got the Badlands, Wall Drug, almost Devil’s Tower (it’s over the border in Wyoming), the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave, and the corn house. And it never tried to change its name to plain Dakota.

  10. Actually, chthus, that was my initial thought as well. Hey South Dakota, there are better ways to get your name in the news you know. I mean you’ve got Mt. Rushmore. Threaten to put Bush’s face on it or something. That’d get people really talking…

  11. The next logical step for the SD legislature is to change the criminal laws concerning rape. It is clear that forcing a sexually experienced athiest to have sex and be sodomized should not be considered a crime. Only virgin Christian rape victims count in South Dakota, everyone else was asking for it and deserves to be punished for their wicked ways.

  12. “Moral Gibberish”.

    People want to shoot abortion doctors? “They’re insane. They’re murderers. They’re hypocrites.”

    People don’t have a rigid, hardline attitude toward the pro-life position and offer exceptions? “Moral Gibberish”.

    Thankfully, there’s the “abortion on demand position!” Motto: We’re neither insane hypocritical monsters nor overflowing with moral gibberish!

    Here’s my attempt to hammer it out:

    It has to do with the general Protestant sense of Justice.

    The most offensive thing in the world to this kind of Protestant is the idea of doing something Horrid to get out of the consequences of doing something Bad. Hey, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime! Don’t try to get out of pregnancy by killing the kid!

    Now, if you might *DIE* if you don’t abort the baby? Hey, you didn’t ask for that. You’re not trying to avoid consequences that could have been avoided by just not being stupid. You could die. That’s messed up. Okay, abortion is fine.

    Rape? Hey, you didn’t ask for that. While you may have been able to avoid the situation in the first place, that certainly doesn’t excuse the violence done to you subsequently. Okay, abortion is fine.

    Incest? See “Rape” (how many cases of incest aren’t rape, anyway?)

    But wanting to get an abortion just because you don’t want hassle? That’s fucked up. No, you can’t have one.

    I think that’s the general mindset, anyway.

  13. I’ve always been puzzled by the “or incest” in the “rape or incest” exemption. They’ve already mentioned rape, so it could only be there to allow abortions in the case of consensual intrafamilial unions. Implied message: “Want to keep your options open? Do it with your brother!”

  14. I’ve personally never understood the rape/incest exceptions (possibly because I’m trying to analyze them from a libertarian perspective). If the baby has a “right to life” at the expense of the mother, then why does it matter how the baby came into being? Conversely, if the woman has a property right to her body against all “trespassers,” including unborn children, then the rape/incest exception is moot.

    I don’t know how I feel about abortion. I’ve heard good libertarian arguments from both sides, but this rape/incest distinction seems to be a side issue that distracts from the greater moral issue at hand.

  15. If the child has equal moral weight with the mother, then it makes no sense to kill it to save the mother’s health.

    The source of the baby (rape or incest) is relevant only because this impacts the mother’s mental health. Again, the question is: do you kill a baby to improve the mother’s health? Even this wouldn’t “heal” her, as she was still raped.

    Emergency contraception should be a standard treatment for rape victims.

    The question of whether or not a fetus has equal moral standing with the mother is not spelled out in the Constitution. Therefore, we should be relying on the legislature for this distinction, or a referendum, or a Constitutional Amendment.

    Since most people rationalize their votes, it behooves the pro-Life group to show pictures of wiggly fetuses, and it behooves the pro-Abortion group to show pictures of pregnant 13 year old girls with the gardner standing in the background.

  16. I think the ‘moral gibberish’ stance on the rape exception comes from the idea that killing is killing. If one is to accept that abortion is taking of a human life at any stage following conception, then it should be wrong to do so even if conception was due to rape. To allow for the abortion in the instance of rape, with such a mindset, would be to visit the sins of the father on the child. It is therefore the lesser of two evils to require a woman to slavishly carry the child of her rapist to term.

  17. bubba,

    The 14th amendment does give some indication of the comparative standing of mother and unborn fetus.

    “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    All persons born or naturalized would seem to only include the mother, not the fetus.

  18. The question of whether or not a fetus has equal moral standing with the mother is not spelled out in the Constitution. Therefore, we should be relying on the legislature for this distinction, or a referendum, or a Constitutional Amendment.

    Ick. On a list of the top ten places I would look to for guidance on moral matters, these are Nos. 100, 101 and 102.

  19. “People who do not have the same moral calculus as I think they ought are hypocrites.”

    Yeah, that’ll win over the pro-lifers. “You make exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother? Kinda morally incoherent, don’t you think?”

  20. Of course the sticker comes from the phrase …”any person within its jurisdiction…” This may or may not include the unborn fetus. I would agree that this definition is then a legislative issue.

  21. Phil,

    I would agree that one shouldn’t look first to those things for moral guidance, but you should for legislative guidance look first to the constitution in this country. If you don’t like what you see, there are means in place to alter it.

    That said, the first place to look for moral guidance will illicit a variety of answers from the Bible to Ayn Rand. I don’t know how one would choose for legislating which would take priority, or whether they could succinctly define the terms enough to be useful.

  22. Anyone else find that “exception” rather odd, in that sodomy, by definion, will NOT end in pregnancy?!

  23. Er…definition.

  24. South Dakota Outlaws Abortion

    Not really. It is not law and probably will not be for years, if ever.

  25. “The source of the baby (rape or incest) is relevant only because this impacts the mother’s mental health. Again, the question is: do you kill a baby to improve the mother’s health? Even this wouldn’t “heal” her, as she was still raped.”

    But before you ask questions like that don’t you first have to determine whether or not the baby has a legitimate right to life (which you alluded to in your first sentence). If not, then mother can abort if she chooses. If so, then it doesn’t matter how the child was conceived does it? (Sorry if I’m belaboring the point. I just think this distinctin is crucial to a libertarian defense/rejection of abortion.)

  26. I just think it’s interesting that people aren’t seeing the goalposts moving.

    “Can you believe that they didn’t make an exception for mother’s health, rape, or incest?”

    “What if they did make such an exception?”

    “Don’t you think it’s morally incoherent to make an exception for mother’s health, rape, or incest?”

  27. sodomy n. Any of various forms of sexual intercourse held to be unnatural or abnormal, especially anal intercourse or bestiality.

    Rape could be described as unnatural or abnormal, so it fits, though is generally the standard usage.

  28. Hey Jennifer,

    Would you still be for legal abortion if the clinics were being purchased by a company based in United Arab Emerates?

    No, but seriously, for everyone – once you accept that the government can manage society, what is the big deal with banning abortion? I mean, I am pro-choice, because I feel the government should stay out of people’s lives. But banning abortion is consistant with the concept of social democracy. If we can require mothers to take parenting classes… if we can tell people what kind of drugs, chemicals, and herbs they are allowed to consume… if we can tell people that they are only allowed to get medical treatment from approved doctors, or using approved drugs… then what is the big deal.

    I want to hear from someone who is for banning all drugs which aren’t approved through the FDA, is for restricting certain medical treatments, etc., why banning abortion is immoral. Explain to me why banning abortion is any different than banning an anti-arthritis medicine.

  29. chthus,

    Enh. Ok, but that’s a stretch. Rape, in terms of pregnancy, obviously refers to vaginal intercourse…

    I question the reproductive knowledge of the man who produced the example.

  30. Considerations for and against abortion matter in practice only to the individuals who must choose…whether those considerations seem logical, like gibberish, or even coercion to someone who isn;t deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy really isn;t relevant.

    If you beleive in God, then certainly s/he will sort out the sinners from the saints later. In the meantime, you are left to live with the consequences of your choice…noone can reasonably expect that having a choice is always easy or the consequences always bad or always good…and, in this country, majority rule will likely ensure that you have the right to that choice for some time to come. That same majority rule will also ensure that some restrictions are probably deemed reasonable.

  31. If we can require mothers to take parenting classes… if we can tell people what kind of drugs, chemicals, and herbs they are allowed to consume… if we can tell people that they are only allowed to get medical treatment from approved doctors, or using approved drugs… then what is the big deal. I want to hear from someone who is for banning all drugs which aren’t approved through the FDA, is for restricting certain medical treatments, etc., why banning abortion is immoral.

    If you want to hear this, you’re posting on the wrong message board, I think. Go to one of those websites where everybody likes the FDA or supports the War on Drugs, and ask them.

  32. Of course the sticker comes from the phrase …”any person within its jurisdiction…” This may or may not include the unborn fetus. I would agree that this definition is then a legislative issue.

    Well, the amendment does specify “persons born”. Not unborn. Obviously this carries no definitive wait, or the issue would already be settled legally, right? right…

  33. linguist,

    It might be better his linguistic skills, but i agree that he’s lacking a bit somewhere in general communication (likely due to perceived impact of scary biblical words).

  34. linguist,

    It might be better his linguistic skills, but i agree that he’s lacking a bit somewhere in general communication (likely due to perceived impact of scary biblical words).

  35. Some people view fetal rights to “life” are absolute.

    Some people think the right to terminate a pregnancy is absolute.

    People who serious argue the rape exception thinks that neither of these rights are absolute and that they must be traded off against each other in some fashion. That is how you get to something morally as messy as the rape / incest exception.

    Me, I agree that a trade-off is neccessary, but think that rape / incest is not where the tradeoff should be made. For the average abortion request, the balancing, IMO, should depend a lot more strongly on the age, and perhaps the brain capacity of the specific fetus involved. We’ll get there. Europe did a long time ago.

  36. Re: sodomy + pregnancy
    Where do you think lawyers come from?

  37. I think these South Dakotan politicians have a hell of a nerve engaging in legislation. Everyone knows that’s what judges are for.

  38. I don’t think Pro-Lib has been paying attention if s/he really thinks that “Of course, this law will probably never be enforceable….”

  39. He. No, I suppose I’m not paying attention.

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