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23 September 2008

The Battle over Abortion in South Dakota


The Washington Post has an excellent article on the fight over abortion in South Dakota this election. It begins:

Bad things don't happen to her, Tiffany Campbell used to think. She was a mother of two, enthusiastically pregnant with twins, a churchgoing Republican living a good middle-class life. Why should she care about a political battle over abortion?

Then Campbell discovered that the twins were relying on one beating heart. Doctors told her that neither would survive if she carried them to term, and that the strong one was fading fast. If one were aborted, they said, the other would probably make it.

"I was not going to bury two of my babies," Campbell remembers thinking. "If I can intervene and save one of my babies, I'm going to do it."

Campbell had the abortion at 17 weeks. The survivor, whom she named Brady, is now healthy and 19 months old. When she learned that an antiabortion referendum on South Dakota's Nov. 4 ballot would prevent other women from having the same choice, she threw herself into the fight.

For the second time since 2006, South Dakota voters are being asked to outlaw almost all abortions. A ballot initiative called Initiated Measure 11 would ban the procedure except in cases of rape, incest and a narrow interpretation of the health and life of the woman.
Read the whole thing. As you do, note that -- just as in Colorado -- the people behind this measure are attempting to make force all people to obey their version of Christian doctrine:
"We are insulted when we hear the Planned Parenthood folks say . . . that women in the middle of the state have nowhere to turn, because it's not true," said the Rev. Steve Hickey, who opposes abortion rights. "There are churches full of people all around the state who will help."

Hickey is a leading organizer of the Lampstand Project, which is rallying churches to provide a haven for women in crisis pregnancies and to persuade them not to have abortions.

In an open letter on Sept. 4, Lampstand ministers wrote that "abortion is unnecessary in part because the church is a significant part of God's provision to women and children in crisis." Hickey says he believes South Dakota has been chosen by God to challenge Roe v. Wade.

At a time when the United States allows "the shedding of innocent blood," Hickey said in an interview in his office at Church at the Gate, "He is giving the nation a window of opportunity to address this. He's picked the state that can pull it off."

If the country makes the "right decision," Hickey said, "we'll see God's blessing come back."
Churches have every right to speak out against abortion. They have every right to attempt to persuade women not to have abortions. They have every right to help women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term.

They have no right to force their faith-based fiction that a embryo or fetus is a person with a right to life on people who believe otherwise. As Ari Armstrong and I argue in our issue paper, "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters That a Fertilized Egg Is Not a Person," a philosophical analysis of the biological facts show that a fetus becomes a person with rights only when separated from the woman at birth. The law should be based on those facts -- and so should respect and protect the right to abortion.

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