a bird and a bottle

South Dakota Strikes Again
February 1, 2007, 11:20 am
Filed under: criminal justice, feminism/s & gender, law, news, reproductive justice

So, the abortion ban in South Dakota is back on the legislative table this session, with a few changes. This time, it has an exception for rape or incest, and narrowly drawn exceptions for the life or health of the woman. This ban is like that zombie that just won’t die in pretty much every horror movie you’ve ever seen.

And, as Salon’s Broadsheet notes, we have to read this law with a fine tooth comb. Because the rape exception is, well, not quite as good as it seems:

The supposedly sympathetic exception for rape victims is sickening in its total disregard for a victim’s right to choose whether to report the crime. Within 50 days of the attack, the rape victim would have to report the crime to the police. “Doctors would have to confirm the report with police and would have to take blood from aborted fetuses and give that information to police for DNA testing,” the Associated Press reports. That’s right: Not only is the rape victim required to report the crime to police, she is potentially the subject of a criminal investigation. At least, that seems to be one implication of supplying the police with the fetus’ DNA.

So let me get this straight. If a woman claims she is pregnant as a result of a rape and gets an abortion and it turns out after, when the DNA testing is conducted, that she was pregnant by another man (say, a husband or boyfriend), she can be prosecuted?! And for what? Murder? Or some new law that this abortion ban would create?

I can envision a range of situations in which this question might come up. It would in truth just be the logical continuation of the prosecutions of pregnant women that we have seen a rash of across the country. And the consequences are enormous.

So we can’t be lulled by the so-called improvements in this ban over the first South Dakota ban. Or we’ll end up like those tragic (though perhaps comically so) horror movie characters who think the zombie is dead. Which turns out to be a tragic – though predictable – mistake.


1 Comment so far
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Damn, the devil’s in the details. I was in SD to campaign against the first one, and I can’t say I ever wanted to go back.

Comment by MilbyDaniel

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