a bird and a bottle

No Good Laws Today Either.
February 15, 2007, 1:21 pm
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, law, news, politics, reproductive justice

News from the Feminist Wire out of South Dakota about the proposed (new and improved!) abortion ban:

South Dakota’s House of Representatives passed the so-called “Women’s Health and Human Life Protection Act” by a vote of 45-25 yesterday. The bill (HB1293) would make abortion illegal in all cases except for rape, incest, or if the life or health of a woman is endangered. Even cases that fall into these categories would be closely scrutinized, making it difficult for a doctor to confirm that a woman’s request for an abortion is justified under this new law.

The bill carries an amendment that would require a statewide vote if it is signed by South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds (R). In November 2006, South Dakota voters resoundingly rejected an extreme abortion ban that had been signed into law in a ballot initiative.

And from Tennessee (via the NY Times):

A state representative introduced legislation that would require death certificates for aborted fetuses, which would be likely to create public records identifying women who have abortions. The representative, Stacey Campfield, a Republican, predicted the bill would pass in the Republican-controlled Senate but would face difficulties in the Democratic-controlled House. “At least we would see how many lives are being ended out there by abortions,” Mr. Campfield said. The number of abortions reported to the state Office of Vital Records is already publicly available. Representative Rob Briley, a Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called Mr. Campfield’s proposal “the most preposterous bill I’ve seen” in an eight-year legislative career.


What’s interesting intellectually about this pair of bills is how much they represent the twin fallacies of anti-abortion rhetoric. The first (the bill from Tennessee) is based in traditional ideas of protecting the fetus and writing the woman out of the picture. The fetus becomes central, and its alleged personhood must be recognized. (Also, it can’t be an unintended consequence of the bill that it would scare women away from seeking abortions by ensuring that their identities would be disclosed on the “birth certificates.”)

The original South Dakota bill introduced a new anti-abortion rhetoric and was sold as a law to “protect women.” Vulnerable pregnant women needed to be shielded by father law from the perils of abortion. In South Dakota, women are front and center, both in our deviance and in our fragility (as evidenced by Bill Napoli’s comments during South Dakota abortion ban round 1).

Either way, women are minimized and condescended to. Women are either so unimportant as to be nonexistent or so infantile that they are without agency. I’m not sure which is worse…or which is a more effective anti-abortion tool.


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Hey! I like your blog. Are you writing for Dakota Women? If you’d like to, email me!

Comment by Plain(s) Feminist

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