I Am Strong, I Am Invincible, I Am Anti-Abortion

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The LA Times' Stephanie Simon reports back on the hottest under-reported election of the year—the fight over South Dakota's draconian abortion ban.

Antiabortion activists here deliberately avoid the familiar slogans of their movement. They don't talk about the "murder of innocent babies" or quote the Bible on the sanctity of life. Instead, campaign manager Leslee Unruh has taken what she calls a feminist approach, arguing that legalized abortion exploits women and—for their sake—must be stopped.

The bumper stickers and T-shirts that fill campaign headquarters spell out her message, in pink and blue: "Abortion Hurts Women."

This isn't a brand new tactic for anti-abortion activists. It's just more jarring in South Dakota, where the proposed law would force women impregnated by rapists to carry their pregnancies to term.

Ronald Bailey first discovered the proposed abortion ban back in February. I noticed the first negative polling for the law in July.

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  1. All your posts are belong to us

  2. However repugnant it may be to carry a rape induced pregnancy to term, if you believe that abortion is murder, there is no other option, because murdering a baby is far more evil. And the pro-lifers assert that a woman has a third, rarely discussed option, which is to give the unwanted baby up for adoption.

    If you don’t understand the other guy’s mindset on an issue, or if you choose to reduce it to fit on your own bumper sticker, you ain’t going to convince anyone anyhow.

    Course, I don’t think your going to convince anyone anyway……….

  3. Is it just me or are there a whole lot less people posting comments than there used to be?

    Seems like there’s about half as many comments and about half as many commenters with, many of the most prolific commenters missing of late.

    I know, people gotta work and they got lives but still………….

  4. Is it just me or are there a whole lot less people posting comments than there used to be?

    Seems like there’s about half as many comments and about half as many commenters with, many of the most prolific commenters missing of late.

    I know, people gotta work and they got lives but still………….

    We’ve eaten most of the posters. You escaped because you’re not enough of a nut.

  5. apparently round these parts – our state’s stem cell initiative “abuses women” too – at least according to the guy and his unbelievably embarrassed kids forced to hold signs on the corner near my office.

  6. “where the proposed law would force women impregnated by rapists to carry their pregnancies to term.”

    Small point: The law would not force women to do (that is–take positive action) anything. The law would prevent them from doing something, that something would be interupt the natural process of pregnancy.

  7. TWC,

    I post less than I otherwise would because I get frustrated by the darned squirrels. I’m prolly not the only one.

  8. Small point: The law would not force women to do (that is–take positive action) anything. The law would prevent them from doing something, that something would be interupt the natural process of pregnancy.

    Does that matter?

  9. A lot of folks out there don’t like abortion and the statistics bear out what a large number of pro-lifers assert about most people being against abortion.

    But a lot of folks also don’t want politicians making medical decisions concerning the life or health of the mother. And a lot of folks want an escape clause for victims of rape or incest.

    It says a lot about the pro-life movement that they won’t budge on the perceived extreme positions when coming to the middle would most likely – at the very least – reduce abortions.

    I (and others, I’m sure) have a hard time viewing their motives as sincere.

    It also says something about the Republicans. They floated two abortion-ban bills when Clinton was in office. Now with larger majorities in all branches of government, they’ve done nothing except ban a procedure most rational people doubted exsisted in the first place.

  10. Is it just me or are there a whole lot less people posting comments than there used to be?

    Seems like there’s about half as many comments and about half as many commenters with, many of the most prolific commenters missing of late.

    I know, people gotta work and they got lives but still………….

    It’s because this is one of the least efficient, most frequently non-functioning blogging and commenting sites on the entire Internet. You’d think a bunch of libertarians would find a better solution in the vast market of ideas.

  11. I’m with you madpad. Seven of nine of the SCOTA overlords are Republican appointees , yet Roe lives, despite questionable legal reasoning. Republicans have exploited the abortion issue election after election, but when they’re actually in power and appointing judges, mum is the word. And people still buy it: activist judges, right to live, and now feminist paternalism (huh?!). What does it all amount to? Terri Schiavo could answer that one: insincere culture of life pandering.

  12. Small point: The law would not force women to do (that is–take positive action) anything. The law would prevent them from doing something, that something would be interupt the natural process of pregnancy.

    Failing to “interrupt the natural process of pregnancy” forces women, and their families, to do (that is–take positive action) many things, including finding a physician, enduring morning sickness, carrying the child for nine months, facing health risks, paying the medical bills, delivering the baby, taking off work, and on and on and on. Then they have to either raise the child or endure the adoption process. All while they are trying to recover from what is often the most traumatic event they have ever had to endure.

    Forcing a woman to bear her rapist’s child is more evil than aborting it.

  13. Forcing a woman to bear her rapist’s child is more evil than aborting it.

    Yeah, Larry is right. It is MUCH better to kill a child, than make some poor woman have a child she doesn’t want. I definitely agree that. Child, schmild, you know. I?m sick and tired of everyone always worried ?about the children,? aren?t you? As Larry says, that woman might have to take time off from work! Morning sickness even! Why endure all of that, when one little murder could remedy the entire situation?

  14. I have a number of questions about this law to which I can’t find good answers:

    1. What is the punishment for providing or soliciting an abortion under this law?

    2. Since this law now defines a “person” as any egg in which a sperm has penetrated, does that “person” have the right to sue in South Dakota? How does an egg that failed to implant and which no one ever knew existed exercise its rights?

    3. Will insurance companies in SD now require businesses that provide services or products which might interfere with a pregnancy (such as horseback riding, liquor, skiing, cycling or other vigorous exercise, or certain dangerous chemicals) to restrict or prohibit women from using the services or purchasing the products?

  15. Yeah, Larry is right. It is MUCH better to kill a child, than make some poor woman have a child she doesn’t want. I definitely agree that. Child, schmild, you know. I?m sick and tired of everyone always worried ?about the children,? aren?t you? As Larry says, that woman might have to take time off from work! Morning sickness even! Why endure all of that, when one little murder could remedy the entire situation?

    Child, embyro… details, details…

    I went to a blastocyst’s funeral last weekend. It was so sad. Failed implantation is the leading cause of death for young children, you know. It makes you wonder: why don’t we organize 10K walks to find a cure for this sort of thing?

  16. An illustration of the unbridgeable gap between the anti-choicers and the anti-lifers more perfect than this thread cannot be found.

  17. Darryl

    If you really think abortion is murder, then prosecute it as such. You don’t need a special law for the “murder” of a fetus.

    Either a fetus is a human being with the full rights of a human being or it is not. If the fetus is a human being, then abortion is murder. No special law required.

  18. An illustration of the unbridgeable gap between the anti-choicers and the anti-lifers more perfect than this thread cannot be found.

    What are you talking about? This is the lamest, most placid abortion thread I’ve ever seen. Only one mention of murder, and no one’s mentioned Jesus yet.

  19. Not to mention that nobody has done anything that would invoke Godwin’s Law yet.

    Focus, people, focus! Channel your anger and vitriol! Given in to the Dark Side of the Force.

  20. Why endure all of that, when one little murder could remedy the entire situation?

    There are times, under civilized law, where killing a human being is justified. The primary one is when that person is about to seriously injure or kill another human being. It’s called self-defense.

    If you want to speak from knowledge on the subject of sexual assault survivors I recommend you take the training and become a volunteer advocate. Answer the hotline. Leave your safe home in the middle of the night and sit in the local emergency room with someone who has just been raped. Tell her that beyond her immediate injuries and psychological trauma the possible consequences include disease and pregnancy. Tell her spouse/significant other/family the same thing. Repeat a couple of dozen times.

    Don’t tell me a man can’t do that. I did.

    Then we can talk.

  21. I quit trying to post, and because of that read the posts, with any regularity a month ago. The server and software is so shitty that this is no longer a “must-read”.

    It’s also the reason that I let my subscription lapse.

  22. Oh god, Leslee Unruh…

    My parents had dinner with the Unruhs the night before I was born; Leslee was about to have a child as well, and they were both up in the maternity ward at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls. The Unruhs were a running joke in my family; my moderate Clinton-dem father found Allen Unruh’s Buchananite politics absolutely loathesome, and my mom, a staunch feminist, felt the same way about Leslee. So I have a strange connection to the “masterminds” behind the abortion ban.

    Now, one of the more interesting parts of the SD abortion ban is that the leading opponents of the bill in the state legislature were Sioux Falls Republicans. Their reasoning was basically as follows:

    1) We’re Republicans- do we really want the heavy hand of government involved in any more aspects of our lives?

    2) This is between a doctor and a patient. Doctors drive the economy of Sioux Falls- do we really want to interfere in their practices any more?

    3) Frankly, we’re working hard to turn Sioux Falls into the silicon valley of biotech- and you’re making us look like a bunch of backwards hicks. Knock it off.

    So yeah, the Sioux Falls country club GOP set is rather ticked off by the whole affair. It’s also provoked the hottest governor’s race the state has seen in decades, with a retired Sioux Falls surgeon with a pugilistic (dare I say Howard Dean-ish) style running against the state’s moronic governor (and really, Mike Rounds rides the short bus. There’s no two ways around it. Not all SD republicans are idiots; we’ve produced a few good ones; but Rounds is… dim.) Jack Billion probably won’t win, but he’s having a good fight.

    So yes, SD politics, exciting as always (and they thought they’d get a break after the apocalyptic 2002 and 2004 Senate races…)

  23. I (and others, I’m sure) have a hard time viewing their motives as sincere.

    When the “pro-life”ers come out against the death penalty and against the war (any war — since life is so sacred) maybe– just maybe they can start to be taken seriously. I don’t see too many “pro-lifers” protesting criminals being put to death for crimes. I don’t see the hardcore “pro-life” movement sponsoring many anti-war rallies or protesting the deaths of Iraqi civillians.

  24. Postmodern, please tell me what punishment the law prescribes or where I might find out that information? Organizations supporting abortion bans seem to have a general blackout on this information.

  25. Re: The declining number of posts.

    I, too, would post more often (as often as I used to) if more of my posts actually posted.

    Nowadays the failure rate seems to be more than 50%, at least during afternoons when I actually have time to post. I don’t like to play those odds. And with posting functionally disabled, I don’t read H&R nearly compulsively as I used to, either. Nothing like getting inspired with an insight, or a quip, and typing it up, and then getting an error message for your trouble.

    I’d heard a rumor that a fix for the comments was in the works for around September. Apparently not.

    If H&R could maybe post a periodic update on the status of the server, even a discreet one, that would help. Is the patient dead, poised for recovery, or in indeterminate condition? Should we prepare to be able to interact with the patient again, or should we just stop by on occasion knowing to see if there’s any progress, or should we just accept that this is a deathbed and prepare ourselves to move on?

    (Now I prepare to hit “Post,” an act that has now become a meta-ironic moment.)

  26. trying to post…squirrels…everywhere…losing blood…scratching…ankles gone…nothing to hold on to…pain…blurry……tell Cote de Pablo I love her….

  27. “However repugnant it may be to carry a rape induced pregnancy to term, if you believe that abortion is murder, there is no other option, because murdering a baby is far more evil.”

    I don’t think abortion is murder, at least not in the earliest stages, because I don’t believe an undifferentiated blob of cells even comes close to being a person.

    But I have to respect that if you DO believe a fertilized egg is a person, at least the condition stated above is a consistent one. I think it’s total hypocrisy for the anti-choice people to thump the Bible and say abortion is murder, but by the way it’s okay if the woman was raped. If an abortion is murder, it’s murder regardless of how or why the egg got fertilized.

    When the fundies start creating loopholes like the rape loophole, it becomes obvious to me that what they really care about is controlling who women have sex with and why, and punishing them when the reasons don’t meet “approval.”

    If you want to reduce the number of abortions that occur, go out and campaign for making birth control pills available over the counter. Quit dealing with the horse once it’s already out of the barn, and start talking about ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. BIRTH CONTROL!!! Because believe it or not, it’s not just teenaged girls who want to have sex without getting pregnant. There are plenty of married people who (quite reasonably) want to limit the size of their families to what they can afford, and provide well for the children they already DO have. Married women get abortions too.

    Yet oddly enough, the anti-choice crowd is now starting to rally against birth control, too! Which just shows what a bunch of irrational fundienutters they are. If there are reasonable voices in the anti-choice crowd who would just like to, for instance, restrict abortions in the 8th or 9th month, I still would not give an inch to a movement that is dominated by so many complete nutbags.

  28. Larry A “Tell her that beyond her immediate injuries and psychological trauma the possible consequences include disease and pregnancy.”

    When a crime happens, innocent people have to deal with the consequences of the actions of the criminal. If I own a store and a thief shoots me in the leg, one fo the consequences I may have to deal with is walking with a limp for the rest of my life. That is the tragic nature of crime.

    Pregnancy is a consequence innocent people may have to deal with. Abortion is one way to deal with the consequences, but it is still only dealing with the consequences. It doesn’t undo the crime.

    The next thing you have to consider is if abortion is an appropriate way to deal with the consequences.

  29. Karen:

    I’m unfortunately in the dark as well; I haven’t lived in SD since they passed the ban, I’ve been in New Mexico for the past two years. Everything I hear is from my family and friends.

    Google is about the only source; the SD legislature bill digest may say something.

  30. The next thing you have to consider is if abortion is an appropriate way to deal with the consequences.

    Or maybe you decide that it is none of your fucking business how someone else deals with the consequences.

  31. Inconvenience…morning sickness…might have to take time off of work…

    The pro-lifers can trot out all the fake-feminist bumper stickers they want. Eventually, the Darryls of the world show up and rip the mask off.

    And the soft anti-abortion majority madpad mentioned flinches away.

  32. Joe, I’m totally with ya. How many people do you suppose are really comfortable with the idea of abortion in the 8th or 9th month? Even if you don’t believe a blastocyst is a person, don’t most reasonable people think a fetus at the 8th or 9th month is pretty darned close?

    I don’t lose much sleep over it, because so few abortions happen that late in the game anyway, and those late-term ones are virtually always out of medical necessity.

    But what the fundienutters really seem to want is a theocracy where people only have sex to make babies. Maybe not EVERY person in the anti-choice movement, but enough of them that I would never give them so much as an inch. Too many of them are just plain nuts. I will go 100% pro-choice – under ANY circumstances – just to keep those creeps’ hands off my body and my rights.

  33. However repugnant it may be to carry a rape induced pregnancy to term, if you believe that abortion is murder, there is no other option, because murdering a baby is far more evil. And the pro-lifers assert that a woman has a third, rarely discussed option, which is to give the unwanted baby up for adoption.

    Actually, that isn’t a “third” option, because in order to give the baby up for adoption, you must first carry it to term. So, it’s really an option 1(b) – a woman can go through the pregnancy; go through the pregnancy but not keep the baby; or not go through the pregnancy.

    And I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through the trauma of a rape and then be reminded that it was not legal for me to abort the baby – to be raped and then feel that man’s child growing and kicking inside me. It would be like a 9-month rape, with a permanent consequence – whether I kept that child or not, knowing it was out there would eat at me. And I find it incomprehensible that some people would write that off as “inconvenience and morning sickness.”

  34. All who commented on my thread hi-jack, thanks. I have a comment failure rate of 50% or more. Often they’re just gone and as Stevo said, once the post is eaten the motivation wanes.

    I’m not sure there is any server that can handle the volume of traffic that this site generates and to resolve the problem takes buckets of money.

    I doubt Reason has a Sugar Daddy or a big trust fund like some of the leftie outfits do. Plus Reason has a lot of demands on its finite resources, H&R is just a small part of the overall operation.

    Big sigh.

  35. Or maybe you decide that it is none of your fucking business how someone else deals with the consequences.

    If you run for office, you’ve got my vote.

  36. I don’t know why we have to continue to pretend that banning abortion is about “saving babies”.

    It is about stopping sex. The people who believe in no sex until marrage want to stop things like abortion and birth control because they believe that sex, other than for procreation within the bounds of marrage, is a sin.

    Abortion removes some of the negative consequences of sex, and so in some small way it encourages sexual promiscuity.

    If you go back 30 years in the abortion debate, you can see that there was a lot less talk of killing babies, and a lot more talk of women being temped into having sex without having to pay for their sins.

  37. I don’t know why we have to continue to pretend that banning abortion is about “saving babies”.

    It is about stopping sex. The people who believe in no sex until marrage want to stop things like abortion and birth control because they believe that sex, other than for procreation within the bounds of marrage, is a sin.

    Horseshit. I was against abortion as soon as I learned what it was. Which was several months before I learned about what exactly what women had to do to get pregnant. And quite a bit longer before I figured out that some people thought that was a sin outside of marriage.

  38. Uh, I meant the second paragraph above to be italicized.

    If you go back 30 years in the abortion debate, you can see that there was a lot less talk of killing babies, and a lot more talk of women being temped into having sex without having to pay for their sins.

    It’s pretty clear that RexRhino wasn’t around 30 years ago listening to the abortion debates. Or if he was, he was only listening to the pro-choicers’ mendacious characterization of pro-lifers, not to the pro-lifers themselves. (Hint: the term “pro-life,” which is older than 30 years, wasn’t invented to proclaim a distaste for extramarital sex.)

  39. Horseshit. I was against abortion as soon as I learned what it was. Which was several months before I learned about what exactly what women had to do to get pregnant. And quite a bit longer before I figured out that some people thought that was a sin outside of marriage.

    If you mad up your mind on abortion before you knew how the sex act works, I have a hard time you understood (or understand now) what abortion is. How old were you when you decided abortion was bad, three years old? I have a hard time imagining a child who doesn’t know about the birds and the bees someone geting impartial information to make a reasonable decision.

  40. If you mad up your mind on abortion before you knew how the sex act works, I have a hard time you understood (or understand now) what abortion is. How old were you when you decided abortion was bad, three years old? I have a hard time imagining a child who doesn’t know about the birds and the bees someone geting impartial information to make a reasonable decision.

    I knew that babies grew within their mothers’ wombs. I didn’t know that sexual intercourse was necessary for women to get pregnant. I thought they just got pregnant without any particular action on their part, the way that plants grew seeds. (It was only much later that I learned that plants reproduce sexually.) My awareness of abortion came in fifth grade, when our class read the Hippocratic Oath. My knowledge of sexual intercourse came in the summer after fifth grade, when some other kids informed me of how it worked.

    And, by the way, all of my children besides the first one have been keenly aware of the fact that babies develop within their mothers. Long before they learned about the mechanics of copulation, they were horrified to learn that some people thought it was morally licit to destroy the life developing within the womb.

  41. And, by the way, all of my children besides the first one have been keenly aware of the fact that babies develop within their mothers.

    This came out garbled. What I meant to say was that because of my wife’s pregancies, all of my children besides the first were aware at the age of about three that they had a sibling growing within their mother’s body. Somewhere between age three and age six, most of them learned that there were people who thought it was OK to kill the developing embryo. Not one of them agreed. You may think that this doesn’t constitute sufficiently “impartial information to make a reasonable decision,” but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they, like me, made their decisions on the morality of abortion before they learned the mechanics of copulation (which, by the way, they did at a somewhat younger age than I did).

  42. At what age did they learn that it was OK to impose that view on others using the government’s powers?

  43. RexRhino,

    “I don’t know why we have to continue to pretend that banning abortion is about “saving babies”.

    It is about stopping sex.”

    I think that’s only a second-tier concern. The real goal is dissatisfaction with women’s equality in the public realm. This is why you see so few “lifers” who support reducing abortion by promoting contraception.

    “Life begins at conception” is a very convenient thing to say, for people who look at pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood as good ways to keep women from advancing to leadership roles in politics and business.

  44. Karen —

    It may surprise you, or it may not, to learn that for the woman having the abortion there is no punishment at all. To be consistent, the anti-choicers would have to propose the death penalty as a punishment (after all, abortion is premeditated murder, right?) and they know how popular that would be. So they say it’s murder, but they’re not actually going to punish the murderer. I have talked to anti-choicers who accept the logic of their position and do, in fact, favor the death penalty for women who have abortions. Pretty scary.

    Now, the doctor would get punished, so that would mean doctors would stop performing abortions, and women would then apparently be able to try to abort themselves without fear of legal consequences. Look for a boom in coat hanger sales.

    Anti-choicers also don’t like to talk about how it would seem to be necessary to have the police investigate every miscarriage to make sure it wasn’t actually an abortion if you were serious about enforcing the law.

    Here’s the text of the South Dakota law:
    http://news.findlaw.com/nytimes/docs/abortion/sdabortionlaw06.html

    Here’s how the criminalization of abortion has worked out in El Salvador:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/09/magazine/09abortion.html?ex=1302235200&en=d855d7f018cc8c56&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

    I hope this helps.

    Ted

  45. Here’s a quote from the NY Times article:

    “In the event that the woman’s illegal abortion went badly and the doctors have to perform a hysterectomy, then the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute, where the government’s doctors analyze it and retain custody of her uterus as evidence against her.”

    Here’s another:

    “Consider an ectopic pregnancy, a condition that occurs when a microscopic fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube ? which is no bigger around than a pencil ? and gets stuck there (or sometimes in the abdomen). Unattended, the stuck fetus grows until the organ containing it ruptures. A simple operation can remove the fetus before the organ bursts. After a rupture, though, the situation can turn into a medical emergency. According to Sara Vald?s, the director of the Hospital de Maternidad, women coming to her hospital with ectopic pregnancies cannot be operated on until fetal death or a rupture of the fallopian tube. “That is our policy,” Vald?s told me. She was plainly in torment about the subject. “That is the law,” she said. “The D.A.’s office told us that this was the law.” Vald?s estimated that her hospital treated more than a hundred ectopic pregnancies each year. She described the hospital’s practice. “Once we determine that they have an ectopic pregnancy, we make sure they stay in the hospital,” she said. The women are sent to the dispensary, where they receive a daily ultrasound to check the fetus. “If it’s dead, we can operate,” she said. “Before that, we can’t.” If there is a persistent fetal heartbeat, then they have to wait for the fallopian tube to rupture. If they are able to persuade the patient to stay, though, doctors can operate the minute any signs of early rupturing are detected. Even a few drops of blood seeping from a fallopian tube will “irritate the abdominal wall and cause pain,” Vald?s explained. By operating at the earliest signs of a potential rupture, she said, her doctors are able to minimize the risk to the woman.”

  46. OK, who the fuck let the gorram fetus fetishists in?

  47. At what age did they learn that it was OK to impose that view on others using the government’s powers?

    Probably at the same age that they learned that the nature of abortion brought into play their earlier conclusion that it was OK to use governmental power to impose their view that it’s wrong to deliberately take the life of an innocent human being.

    Come on folks, surely you must realize that if abortion is wrong at all, it can only be because it’s the kind of wrong that demands government intervention. Conversely, if it’s the kind of things government shouldn’t get involved in, then that can only be because it *doesn’t* involve the deliberate taking of an innocent human life.

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