keep your laws off my body

Photo by radarxlove / Chelsea

I feel so sorry for the women of South Dakota who dare fall pregnant against their wishes. Personal reproductive choice is being limited even more than ever all over the country as illustrated by the new bill signed into law by SD Governor Dennis Daugaard. This new law requires a three-day waiting period before a woman is allowed to have her abortion–the longest wait anywhere in the nation. Women are also forced to attend anti-abortion counseling sessions at pregnancy help centers.

Since many of these centers are specifically Christian institutions, the balance of this “counseling” is easily called into question. The point of these centers is to convince women that their choice is wrong and that they are broken, fallen people who need to carry their babies full-term. I used to volunteer at a pregnancy counseling center as a teenager, and our training centered around convincing girls and women of three things: God loved them, abortion is murder, and sex before marriage is wrong. At my center, we were taught to show you care for the women by praying with and evangelize them. You want them to trust you and believe what you say so that you can save the life of the unborn children. Your entire mission is to save the baby and the woman’s soul.

This piece explains how I feel about the new SD law:

That the anti-choice movement is mostly a Christianist movement bent on imposing its religious beliefs on the public at large is one of the most under-discussed aspects of the abortion debate. This law should highlight the theocratic underpinnings of the anti-choice movement. Most and probably all crisis pregnancy centers are religious organizations that object to abortion because it conflicts with their religious dogma about female sexuality, women’s roles, and their belief about when the soul enters the body. Requiring women to sit through a lecture on Christian ethics about sexuality before getting an abortion should be a clear-cut case of a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, even if the crisis pregnancy centers are careful to avoid saying the word “Jesus” too much.

Republican state senator Al Novstrup claimed the bill is somehow protective of women, offering them a “second opinion,” which indicates not just his disrespect for religious freedom but his profound ignorance of options counseling typical to abortion clinics, especially Planned Parenthood, which runs the sole abortion clinic in the state. I don’t imagine he’d see it that way if the state required citizens to hear a “second opinion” about other private decisions based on personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Would Novstrup enjoy having to listen to a lecture from an atheist or Muslim group before joining a church, getting married or making plans for his own funeral? Why then is it appropriate to force women to listen to religious lectures before making a decision that involves their own religious beliefs about life?

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13 thoughts on “South Dakota’s Anti-Abortion, Pro-Religion Law”

greateighthsin · March 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Absolutely disgusting… Three things you never see from pro-lifers. 1: Them willing to flip the bill (i.e. raise taxes) for foster and education services. 2: them jumping up and adopting those precious little unwanted babies. 3: Allowing gays/lesbians/transgendered people to adopt.

“If you’re prenatal you’re fine. If you’re preschool you’re f***ed.” ~ George Carlin

That baby is completely dependent on the mother for 9 months, and if she/they choose to keep it, another 18 years. Absolutely nothing is “right” to force anyone into that situation if they are not mature or financially stable enough.

    Colie the Magical Closet Athiest · April 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Exactly what he said.

Andrew Hall · March 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Is it possible to colonise South Dakota with atheists? Maybe have some kind of stipend for those wishing to settle there.

Em · March 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I’ve got to say, as much as I advocate options such as abortion, unless rape is involved, nobody’s forcing a woman to get pregnant. She chooses to have sex, and either decides to be unprotected, is too dumb to use the protection properly, or is incredibly unlucky. That’s like saying you’re forcing someone who eats very unhealthily to have a heart attack by making gastric bypass illegal.

    Atheist · May 17, 2011 at 5:54 am

    So one mistake is enough to justify ruining her life for 18 years.

    What if she’s got no family and no support and will have to raise this child on her own. She does drugs and the child will probably get addicted and have birth problems as well.

    Still worth it?

Annie · March 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Em, in many teen pregnancy cases, many of the girls don’t know how to have safe sex because no one has ever taught them. Many of them don’t even really know their basic biology very well and don’t realize they are pregnant until very late in the game. Poor education on this front is a very large contributing factor to many early pregnancies.

As for this law, it is disgusting. If you wish to debate scientifically when it is proper to do such things, fine. Science is fine. But I refuse to be told by a religious majority that I shouldn’t do something because their religion says so. Actually, in Judaism, a child isn’t a person until they’ve taken their first breath, thus imbuing them with the spirit of the Lord. How can we take their arguments about souls and such seriously when it is clearly only dogmatic in nature? This is the whole part of the debate that baffles me. Religion is playing FAR too large a role in sex education and other options pertaining to sex. It’s a dangerous road we’re traveling.

Walrus · March 24, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I’m not going to ignore the influence religion has in issues like this, but it would be foolhardy to write pro-life viewpoints as religious dogma. You don’t have to believe in “souls” to recognize a biological being as person and as such, you can be in favor of preserving the right to life of human life that has not yet been born.

Michael LaRocca · April 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Rapid City, South Dakota by Kinky Friedman might be the only pro-choice country and western song. It’s certainly the first, and I believe it’s from the 1980s, and I just learned from a search engine right this minute that Dwight Yoakum covered it. Cool.

angie gunnell · April 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Indiana just passed a law requiring any person seeking an abortion be informed that life begins at conception, which in my opinion is the state mandating a religious belief be expressed as truth. Also last week they charged a suicidal pregnant woman with homicide. (see link)

I just don’t know what to say. To charge an obviously ill person with murder is just incomprehensible.

http://www.pal-item.com/article/20110402/UPDATES/110402011/Woman-charged-suicide-attempt-after-fetus-died

umaslittlesis12 · May 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

I am pro life, and my belief that life begins at conception is not totally separate from my religion, but it is not based solely on my religion either. However, I do think that if state governments push this on other people they should at least put more funding into preventing this in the first place, i.e., better sex education in schools, foster services, etc.

Jim Jones · October 12, 2011 at 1:07 am

Makes the 12 hour bus trip to Winnipeg look more and more attractive, doesn’t it?

Chenea · March 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm

So it’s not okay to make someone attend religious counseling but it’s okay to go and get your baby vacuumed out of you? Nice point…

allison · April 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm

No, it’s not OK to make someone attend a religious counseling session. (I would not force you to attend a Muslim, Buddhist, or Scientology counseling session either) And no, having your “baby vacuumed out of you” is not an accurate description of a typical abortion.

Please educate yourself on the issues before you make emotionally charged (and irrelevant) non-sequesters.

The entire point of the argument here is that it is inhumane to go about the process of preventing abortions by shame, humiliation, physical and psychological abuse, or unnecessary medical procedures mean to violate a pregnant woman. If you are anti-choice, be anti-choice and 1. Have the decency to provide the tools needed for a woman to raise a child from an unplanned pregnancy and 2. Seek a repeal of abortion law, but stop dicking around with these completely inhumane methods of “red tape” that can only be defined as psychological or physical torture to shame a woman into agreeing with your position. I cannot believe that it is remotely justifiable to force a woman to go through these hoops for the sake of what some people define as the “greater good”. This is nothing more that a moral justification of torture.

It is a statistical fact that countries with access to sexual health services, including abortions, have a lower rate of abortions.

It is a statistical fact that countries that provide proper sex education and contraceptives have a lower rate of unplanned pregnancy.

If you truly want to reduce abortions (and this is the end goal of BOTH sides), you should commit yourself to causes that reduce unplanned pregnancy. This is exactly what the pro-choice camp is doing. Increased sexual health services, sex ed, contraceptives, etc… (which is an overwhelming majority of the services provided by Planned Parenthood) are proven to reduce unplanned pregnancy and the need for safe, legal abortions.

If you actually want to shame women into your religion, please continue to throw around this type of vitriol. I am constantly amazed at the insidious abuse that is justified by a religion that promotes itself as loving.

In my own life experience, the only women I know personally who had abortions did so because they were Christians who did not want other people to know that they were sexually active. Shame your women for having sex. Shame your women for having abortions. Shame your women for having a child outside of marriage. I expect nothing less from a religion that originated in a culture that treated women and their virginity as a commodity to be bought and sold. You are doing nothing more than continuing a tradition based on the idea that the woman does not own her own body. Nice.

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