Thirteen months ago -- to the day -- I posted something herein about how the community of Salem, South Dakota, was staging a pretty vigorous (but nonetheless futile) attempt at putting a recently-created topless juice bar there out of business. It seems that those Puritanical freaks from the lesser Dakota cannot keep themselves out of the Constitutional journals: apparently, now they've passed a statewide law banning all sorts of abortions, despite the protection incurred and rendered by Roe v. Wade.
Normally, a newly-passed state law has no real national relevance; granted, if a state -- say, Nevada -- decided to pass a law saying any guy shorter than 5'10 can be castrated publicly and without any real warning or provocation on its streets, I'm guessing that -- until everything got straightened out -- many height-challenged male tourists heading to Vegas might rethink things a bit. But when a state outlaws abortion in virtually all its guises, well, that's something that kinda-sorta should make us all sit up and take notice.
It's no coincidence, of course, that the timing of this law being passed is so close on the heels of the second confirmation for a new Bush-appointed justice to the Supreme Court. Between Roberts and Alito, it's pretty clear the swing vote that was once a given thanks to Sandra Day O'Connor is now completely turned around, and the newly-aimed conservative bent on the Court is now clearly filtering into state legislatures across the red states.
Now before I go any further, I am not "in favor" of abortion; however, I am in favor of not dictating to a woman what she can and cannot do regarding her own biology. I understand the societal need to restrict people's use of drugs and alcohol to maintain public safety; but forcing a woman who conceived a child -- whether by consensual sex, rape, incest or something akin thereto -- to carry that child to term and then give the child up for adoption if she so decides is ridiculous. An abortion, ie a scientific procedure which can safely terminate a woman's pregnancy if for some reason she decides she does not want to carry that child, is a reasonably-priced, safe procedure that should not be deprived of any woman. The rub, of course, is that despite an abortion being of a reasonable cost is all relative. For me, a $200 procedure is not expensive. For someone who makes $31,500 and lives in the middle of Alabama, however, that $200 might mean a lot. Abortion should be available to any woman who wants one; but should it be state-provided or covered by insurance? Nope, and it never will be. I'll deal with the dollars in another post; at this point, the question regarding abortion isn't one of cost but of legality.
Dollars aside, if a state can pass a law criminalizing abortion, that means that -- should the Supreme Court deem that law to be constitutional -- that all other states who are anti-abortion will do the same. That means, in theory, should the Supreme Court review one state law outlawing abortion and deem it to be constitutional, all the dominoes fall and, one by one, each state can -- at will -- deny women a legal abortion. The threat, unfortunately, is real, because there are legions of "pro-life" people who endlessly lobby and target legislators and other politicians. And while it's now only South Dakota, what happens if and/or when a block of southern states criminalize abortion? That means we'll return to the days of when a woman could get an abortion in only large cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and Washington, DC. That begins to appear more and more like an infringement of freedom. Then again, this might be nothing; but even if this South Dakota law is struck down, which is likely to happen, it's more than likely that another state will take its shot at overturning Roe v. Wade. Considering half this country seems to be motivated in part by the Christian Right, that means the Supreme Court is going to be very busy.
Kaia linked me to an article entitled S. Dakota Slaps Up Its Women by SF Gate columnist Mark Morford in which he addresses the new law. He suggests that it's unlikely but possible that this law will be enough to overturn Roe v. Wade. I disagree; I think it will take another few iterations of a state-level anti-abortion law to be pushed before the Court gives serious consideration to overturning Roe v. Wade. But either way, the concern is palpable -- it doesn't matter if none of these laws overturn Roe v. Wade. What is clearly cause for alarm is that these laws are being passed without referendums and without fanfare; so today, abortion rights are slowly being rescinded. What's next? Privacy? Free speech? Religion?
It seems sort of silly to compare a state like South Dakota passing a law which is sure to be struck down with the erosion of the Bill of Rights, but in a political climate like ours, and with people guided by their religious beliefs rather than respect for the separation of Church and State -- not to mention the Constitution -- any crack in the ice could lead to the whole slabgoing under.
If it's overly melodramatic, I apologize in advance. I'd much rather be dismissed as a kook than be writing an "I Told You So" entry herein.
Incidentally, I never thought I'd see the day when a "Pro-Lifer" found it necessary to kill an abortion doctor save lives, neither.
This is the first shot in what we can expect to be a long, drawn-out war.