CommunityPam's House Blend

Womb control full steam ahead

South Dakota is going full steam ahead with womb control measures (and, sorry Ohio, you’re on deck again — more later), with an onerous bill that solidly cleared its Senate in a 32-12 vote. The state is the first to pass a law banning abortion under almost any circumstance, and the intention is to force the long-desired Roe v. Wade showdown in the Supreme Court for the Christofascists.

House Bill 1215 would ban most abortions in South Dakota. It now goes back to the House, which passed an earlier version and must now decide whether to accept changes made by the Senate. The bill would then go to Gov. Mike Rounds.


Republican Sen. Bill Napoli of Rapid City said, “This bill is as straightforward and as honest as it can be. It just says no more abortions unless the life of the mother is threatened.” Republican Sen. Tom Dempster of Sioux Falls said, “This bill ends up being cold, indifferent and as hostile as any great prairie blizzard that this state has ever seen.”


Democrat Sen. Julie Bartling of Burke said the time is right for the ban on abortion. “In my opinion, it is the time for this South Dakota Legislature to deal with this issue and protect the rights and lives of unborn children,” she said during the Senate’s debate. “There is a movement across this country of the wishes to save and protect the lives of unborn children.” Republican Sen. Stan Adelstein of Rapid City had tried to amend the bill to include an exception for abortions for victims of rape. The amendment lost 14-21.

Shakes Sis, Amanda at Pandagon, and Jill at Feministe weigh in. Shakes:

This issue is not just about women who may, at some point, want or need abortions. It’s about all women-and our standing in society, our autonomy. Control over my own body, of which legalized abortion is a significant part, is part of how I define and understand myself and my role in our culture. Taking that away from me is taking away a part of myself, and make no mistake, that’s what this fight is really about.

Amanda‘s post title says it all – “South Dakota women might as well die for fucking“:

Between abstinence-only “education”, anti-contraceptive activism and laws banning women from terminating life-threatening pregnancies, it appears the wingnut opinion on the proper lifecycle of the womb-body is-one begins as a bright-eyed, innocent virgin, loses your virginity in some weird post-wedding masculinity rite, preferably with maximum blood, fall pregnant immediately, and then die in childbirth so everyone can remember you fondly. God apparently fucked up, as far as the Wingnutteria is concerned. If he was thinking correctly, then he would have made women more like actual flowers, who reproduce and then wither away.

Jill nails it:

This ban additionally states that “life begins at the time of conception,” which again demonstrates that politicians probably shouldn’t be making laws about medicine when they have no idea what they’re talking about (hello there, “partial-birth” abortion!). “Conception” isn’t a medical term. Fertilization is, but pregnancy doesn’t start at fertilization – it starts at implantation. And if “life” in South Dakota starts at “conception,” they’re going to have a skyrocketing miscarriage rate, as about half of fertilized eggs naturally don’t implant in the uterus and get flushed out. Perhaps the next initiative will require women to save their used tampons and pads, or at least give them a proper burial, considering the possibility that there’s a baby on them.

If that bold move by South Dakota doesn’t take your breath away, take a look at this morally ambiguous doozer out of Ohio, H. B. No. 287, which attempts an end-run under the guise of “protecting” doctors. Hat tip to Blender tarminian, who wrote:

The purpose of this bill is to exempt the Amish (or other religious sects) from rules and regulations on freestanding birth centers.

Along the way one of the Ohio wingnuts added language that will exempt these centers from being sued if “because of an act or omission an abortion was not performed“. So, basically if the doctor doesn’t provide information to the client that their baby has any number of conditions that would be problematic or incompatible with life after birth they have no ability to get legal remediation for the mistake.

In this bill, parents can still sue if the doctor purposefully withholds information parents might need to determine whether or not to seek abortion if there is a tragic defect of some sort, but this bill clearly is chipping away at reproductive freedom if a doctor can say that a “mistake” was made in diagnosis of a severely troubled pregnancy. From a story in the Columbus Dispatch.

A proposal that wraps medical malpractice and abortion controversies into the same package passed a Senate committee yesterday and could potentially pass the full Senate next week.

…If approved, Ohio would become the seventh state to prohibit wrongful-life or wrongful-birth lawsuits, where parents sue a doctor for failing to provide them proper information about the birth defects of a fetus. In two such cases pending before the Ohio Supreme Court, mothers said that if doctors provided them with the proper information, they would have terminated the pregnancies.

But Anne Valentine, a Columbus lawyer speaking for the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, said the proposal lets doctors off the hook for making mistakes. Under the bill, a doctor that misreads a test result or performs the test improperly could not be sued if a child is born with a defect that should have been caught. The amendment, attached to an unrelated bill dealing with licensing birthing centers, would still permit a lawsuit if the doctor willfully withholds information about a medical diagnosis.

The bill provides no recourse for a family that must deal with the emotional and financial trauma of raising a child with potentially painful, debilitating, or fatal birth defects that, because of a doctor’s mistake, were not discovered sooner, she said. “Information about the health of a fetus has ramifications for a family that most of us cannot fathom,” Valentine said.

…Valentine noted that abortions are legal, and legislators were protecting doctors who deny parents the chance to make a legal choice.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding