Tuesday, March 07, 2006

South Dakota

Georgia10 investigates South Dakota:
Convicted of four DUIs? Get caught setting up a second internet gambling site? Place a bug on someone's phone line? Posses a half pound of marijuana? That's what South Dakota thinks a Class 5 felony is about.
Oh, also performing an abortion.

Next time someone says "abortion is murder," tell them "no, in South Dakota it's a half a pound of pot."

Of course, for a pregnant woman in a desperate situation, abortion can be suicide. One blogger has put up instructions on a DIY abortion, and I kid you not when I say that this could be suicide.

In the 1960s, women didn't have many options when confronted with a pregancy they couldn't handle, for whatever reason. There were do-nothing herbal treatments, the fall down a flight of stairs, unscrupulous back-alley abortions that could leave a woman bleeding in a hospital. There were also small networks of women who would provide counseling and assistance to women in need, and who knew doctors who would perform an abortion in antiseptic conditions, for a price. In many cases, the price was higher than the cost of delivering a baby.

That last point matters, because it destroys the absurd claim that abortions are a matter of convenience. Whether you consider the personal cost or the economic cost, abortion isn't and wasn't convenient.

A few women in Chicago looked at this situation, recognized that economic hardship shouldn't force women into life-threatening situations, and made a plan. They had access to medical supplies, but with no medical training of their own, learned how to safely provide abortions, and established an underground clinic to provide safe, affordable abortions to women in need. It was a way to cut organized crime, scam artists

Momma TfK was active in this movement, and while she didn't create Jane, she says she suggested the idea. When I passed on the DIY abortion instructions to her, she said it nearly made her cry to think we might be going back to that. Those were dark days.

Married women had to think about traveling to other countries where abortion was legal, or face illegal abortions, if they needed to make a decision about how soon to have children, or how close together they should be. South Dakota took us back to a time when women lived in fear and horror. I hope other states remember the battles fought a generation ago, and don't insist that we lose more women's lives refighting them.