Vital Signs

The Courage to Defy Prudence

On February 22, the South Dakota Senate, by a vote of 23-12, approved legislation banning nearly all abortions in the state.  On February 24, the vote in the South Dakota House of Representatives was 50-18 (H.B. 1215).  Twelve days later, Gov. Mike Rounds signed the measure into law.  President Bush criticized the law as too extreme and reminded America of his own inscrutable belief that abortion is OK if the baby was conceived during a rape or an act of incest, but not otherwise.  Come July 1, committing an abortion for any reason other than to save the life of the mother will be a crime in South Dakota, punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years.

Or will it?  Long before the ink of Rounds’ signature had dried, the end runs were under way.  One is as sad as it is silly: Cecilia Fire Thunder, who last year defeated actor/activist Russell Means to become president of the Oglala Sioux (the tribe’s first female president ever), declared, “I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land, which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.”  Planned Parenthood thanked her but declined her offer—for now, that is.  Their better-than-half-a-century record of exterminating the babies of very poor brown people suggests that they might one day be game.  Pine Ridge...

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