South Dakota Legislation on
Author: Samuel Metz
The abortion legislation is
not about abortion. Itís about sex.
But first, credit where
credit is due.
This legislation is morally
consistent. If abortion is infanticide, then it is fitting
that no exception be made for rape or incest. We do not
kill children for the sins of parents. And every pregnant
woman would qualify under "health of the mother," as
carrying a pregnancy to term is ten times more dangerous
than an elective first trimester abortion.
However, the legislation is
scientifically incomplete. Science has not determined that
life begins at conception, but the South Dakota
legislators have. So at their next session, we can expect
the legislature to outlaw "morning after pills" and birth
control pills that prevent a fertilized ovum from
implanting in the uterus.
The legislation is also
morally incomplete. The proposed law protects the life of
the unborn child, but not its health before or after
birth. Where are the laws providing easily accessible
pre-natal care to women forced to carry unwanted babies?
What have legislators done to make adoption easier? How
many legislators adopted unwanted babies, especially those
hardest to place: older non-white babies with special
Importantly, what have the
legislators done to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the
first place? The defining characteristic of abortion is an
unwanted pregnancy. If birth control renders every
pregnancy a wanted pregnancy, abortion effectively
But we see no laws addressing
the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. In fact, we
frequently see anti-abortion action accompanied by
measures making contraception less accessible rather than
more so. "Evidence from around the world shows that
placing restrictions on abortion to make it harder to
obtain has much more to do with making it less safe than
making it rarer, " says Susan Cohen, of the Guttmacher
Institute. "Yet in the United States, abortion opponents
take credit for the mounting state and federal
restrictions on abortion, rather than working to reduce
unintended pregnancy to begin with."
The inescapable conclusion is
the South Dakota legislation is really devoted to
punishing promiscuous sexual activity in women.
Promiscuous sex, we infer from South Dakota, is
sex-for-pleasure rather than for child-bearing.
The ultimate purpose of
anti-abortion legislation is condemning female
sex-for-pleasure practitioners to compulsory child-bearing
- and (in the absence of state-facilitated adoption)
child-rearing. Furthermore, promiscuous women receive
little or no help in keeping their unborn child healthy or
with child care after delivery. This will make any woman
think twice before yielding to the temptations of sex
independent of creating more children.
Which is the intent of this
construct, apparently directed at premarital sex among
teenagers, plays havoc with marital sex among adults. It
will shock South Dakota legislators to learn that many
women have sex-for-pleasure with their husbands. Many
already have children and cannot care for more. According
the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 60% of women seeking
abortions in the US already have children.
Ultimately, with abortion
outlawed, birth control inaccessible, and adoption an
uphill battle, American women can look forward only to as
many sex acts as children they wish to bear and rear.
Fertile women who do not wish to be mothers will not have
sex, ever, even with their husbands.
The South Dakota legislature
could add significant moral weight to the premise that
this bill is not about sex, but about protecting the
welfare of children, unborn or otherwise, with the
following supplementary legislation:
1. Statewide measures to
educate teenagers about birth control, including but not
restricted to abstention.
2. Increased accessibility to
birth control options for all women, and men.
3. Enable state-funded
pre-natal care for all pregnant women.
4. State financed adoption
counseling for birth mothers and adoptive parents, with
substantial state subsidies for parents who adopt
In the absence of such
supplementary legislation, we conclude what this
anti-abortion legislation really represents: male
legislators making women who enjoy sex pay dearly for it
by bearing and raising unwanted, unhealthy children.