Monday, October 23, 2006

Rapid City Journal Editorial: Abortion Bill Goes Too Far

Good news for the women of South Dakota! A day after our letter to the editor appeared (see post below), the Rapid City Journal editorial board came out in strong opposition to Referred Law 6!

By The Journal Editorial Board

There are few issues on which the dividing lines are more clearly drawn and the opposing sides further apart than the abortion issue. Those occupying the middle ground usually favor allowing abortion with restrictions. Anyone could see that HB1215, the law to ban most abortions in South Dakota, would create turmoil because it discarded all exceptions except one - to save the life of the mother. On that basis, we argued unsuccessfully against it becoming law.

We now see the results. South Dakota has become the national battleground for abortion rights. This is precisely the battle that opponents of abortion wanted to fight when they sponsored HB1215. Their goal has always been to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to seek an abortion legally.

Opponents of the law circulated petitions and easily place Referred Law 6 on the Nov. 7 ballot in order to prevent the intended legal challenge to Roe from reaching the courts.

South Dakota voters will decide on Nov. 7 whether to carry on the fight to repeal Roe or move the battle to some other arena.

We opposed HB1215 on the grounds that it didn't include exceptions for rape and incest. Our review of abortion records found that just 23 of 814 abortions performed in 2004 were because the woman was a victim of rape or incest. That's 2.8 percent of all abortions done in the state. Even if HB1215 had included exceptions for rape and incest, it still would have been the most restrictive abortion law in the country.

HB1215 supporters say there is a rape or incest exception in the law, provided that it is taken before pregnancy can be detected. The means for preventing a pregnancy - usually referred to as emergency contraception - isn't effective after a short period of time, three days to 14 days, depending on whom you ask. What about young victims of incest who often don't have access to a doctor, or a rape victim who may have other things to worry about? Once a woman learns that she is pregnant due to a criminal act against her, she cannot end the pregnancy.

That goes too far.

The reason for not including exceptions for rape and incest is because only a law without exceptions (other than to save the mother) had a reasonable chance at directly challenging Roe vs. Wade.

Is it South Dakota's mission to overturn Roe? Can we afford to carry the fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court?

HB1215 has been beneficial in this respect: South Dakotans are asking and debating important questions about abortion that citizens of no other state have had to answer.

When does life begin? Does unborn life have the same constitutional right to life as the mother - even when she did not voluntarily conceive the child? What does it mean to allow legalized abortions? What limits should be placed on the procedure?

It remains our view that HB1215 goes too far in restricting abortion and that South Dakota can't afford to carry water for the national campaign to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Our position is a No vote on Referred Law 6.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

We are Featured in the Rapid City Journal!

Read our op-ed: "Why are Doctors Lying" at the link above, or here:

Once you've read our op-ed, take some action!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Meet the Grandmothers!

Barbara Chapman (left) and Karen Miller (right)

Why are Doctors Lying?

Forum, 10-21: Why are doctors lying?

By Barbara Chapman and Karen Miller, mental health professionals in Rapid City. They authored a rebuttal to the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion's report that is available at

If, as they claim, supporters of Referred Law 6 care about women, why are they lying to them? In an ad sponsored by VoteYesForLife, a group of doctors go beyond stating their support for South Dakota's law banning virtually all women from making their own decisions regarding abortion: they bend the truth to fit their agenda.
Dr. Mark Rector of Sioux Falls, for example, states: "This measure does provide exception for the life and the health of the mother."Why is Dr. Rector lying to women? As a medical professional, he knows that there is nothing in the abortion ban that allows for an exception to protect the health of a pregnant woman. In fact, the South Dakota Legislature was given an opportunity to add an amendment to the ban that would have allowed for a health exception, and they deliberately voted against it.
So there is no exception for the woman's health in South Dakota. While the ban does have an exception for the "life" of the mother, the term "life" is so vague that it is unclear how close to immediate death a woman would have to be in order to be able to have an abortion. Does she have to prove she will die tomorrow? Is a diagnosis of uterine cancer enough? Or because it won't kill her immediately, will she be denied treatment and forced to go to term while the deadly cancer is spreading?
Think this can't happen? Just ask Michelle Lee, a Louisiana woman denied a Medicaid-funded abortion by Louisiana State University Medical Center. In spite of her life-threatening heart condition that was getting worse, doctors at that facility denied her request for a Medicaid-funded abortion after deciding that her risk of death was not greater than 50 percent if she carried the pregnancy to term.
The women of South Dakota will be next in line for this kind of treatment unless people vote No on Referred Law 6.
The doctors in the ad are entitled to their opinion that "Referred Law 6 is a caring approach to protecting women." But it's hard to imagine how a law that deprives women of their right to make health care decisions on behalf of themselves and their families "protects" them.
History tells us that in every society that attempts to ban abortions, women - desperate to take responsibility for their lives, their health and the children they already have - will attempt to get abortions in any way they can, often with tragic results.
In our country, in the period before Roe vs. Wade, thousands of women died each year. And hundreds of thousands more were injured either by their own attempts at self-abortion or in the hands of unskilled illegal providers of abortions. In other words, criminalizing abortion does not stop abortions - it just deprives women, a majority of whom are already mothers, from accessing safe abortion services.
That is why a majority of South Dakota's doctors oppose the ban and why the state's section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are urging voters to vote No on 6. These physicians know that there is no exception for the health of the mother; they also know there is no exception in the law for women who have been raped. Permitting women to use contraception is not the same as allowing them to decide whether or not they need to end a pregnancy that resulted from violence.
We believe that people who truly value pregnant women, mothers and families don't lie to them - which is precisely what supporters of the abortion ban are doing when they distort the facts about exceptions and the protection of mothers. We believe that government has no business intruding into personal decisions or the practice of medicine. And we trust women to make good health care decisions on behalf of themselves and their families.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Press Release: South Dakota Grandmothers Call Report Leading to Abortion Ban Biased and Medically Inaccurate

Click on the link to read the current press release.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Issue Brief: Grandmothers Speak: A Rebuttal to the SDTFSA

Click on the link to view the Grandmothers Speak Rebuttal Issue Brief

Full Report: Grandmothers Speak: A Rebuttal to the SDTFSA

Click on the link to view the Grandmothers Speak Rebuttal Full Report