Over the 34 years abortion has been legal in the U. S., pro-life organizations have adapted certain philosophies.
I’m thinking now of strategists who incrementally plot our legal course based on court decisions and a head count of pro-life and anti-life judges. I’m also thinking of purists who won’t support legislation with compromises or exceptions. No stopgaps allowed.
The South Dakota abortion bans of 2006 and 2007 present quandaries for both these camps….
For purists, the evidence starkly suggests even a plurality of pro-life voters will only vote for an abortion ban with exceptions. Furthermore, prospects for passage of a human life amendment to the U. S. Constitution are bleak, since it would require ratification by three-fourths of the states….
As for incremental strategists, at least two national pro-life organizations opposed the South Dakota ban last year, stating the time was not ripe to trigger the Supreme Court’s response to whether Roe v. Wade was indeed constitutional, since the Court is currently weighted 5-4 against us….
Continue reading my WorldNetDaily.com column today, “”Incrementalists and purists vs. the South Dakota abortion ban.”
Also see bonus notes augmenting my column on page 2 of my blog. These were gleaned from a speech given by South Dakota state Rep. Roger Hunt on Feb. 3
Bonus notes from Stanek’s Feb. 7 WND column, “Incrementalists and purists vs. the South Dakota abortion ban”:
I attended a speech given by South Dakota state Rep. Roger Hunt on Feb. 3 and learned interesting facts about the backdrop of South Dakota’s abortion bans and the bans themselves.
As I mentioned in my column, what I found most reassuring was that crafters wrote the bans with Supreme Court Justice Kennedy in mind. Kennedy is a swing voter on abortion who has written extensively both in agreement and dissent about his Court’s decisions on abortion cases throughout the years.
Other points Rep. Hunt made in his speech:
The population of South Dakota is 750,000. It is a pro-life state. Over 75% of the public say they are pro-life. The legislature is truly a citizens’ legislature in that it meets only 40 days a year, enabling it to do a number of things not possible in other states. South Dakota is one of few states that could pass a ban, based on its culture, legislature, and history. Six or seven states are looking at ban bills. The legislature has been chipping away at abortion since the early 1990s. For instance:
o The state now requires abortion clinics and abortionists to report certain information to the Department of Health, which the legislature uses as a basis for arguing some of our issues. Abortion reporting has established 85% of aborting mothers in SD do so for convenience and less than 2% of abortions are for rape/incest.
o Abortion clinics must now be licensed, and the law requires parental notification.
o There are now standards for disposal of aborted babies to establish respect.
o There is now an “unborn child victims of vehicular homicide” law.
o An informed consent law is now making its way through the courts. It requires abortionists to discuss the mother/child bond. Interestingly, Planned Parenthood got out of the case due to depositions which were showing doctors are almost absent from the abortion procedure.
In 2005 legislators established a task force to study the impact of abortion on women. “No state legislature before had bothered to do its homework,” said Hunt. There is now much medical and scientific information not available in 1973. Roe v. Wade did not discuss the harm of abortion to women, for instance. Additionally, molecular biology has given us the ability to have genetic understanding of the essence and beginning of human life. This task force gave the basis for introducing HB1215, the absolute abortion ban in 2006. It was passed by a supermajority of both houses and signed by pro-life governor. Planned Parenthood said HB1215 had no rape/incest exceptions, although it did. The problem was the bill was so carefully crafted on these exceptions it did not include the word, “rape.” Planned Parenthood hit on that point constantly, and our side was never able to get the message across and had to contend with being called extremists. “The loss of 1215 was not easy to take,” said Hunt. “But there was a benefit. It showed that even in a good pro-life state like South Dakota, a ban could not have no exceptions. We would like pure legislation. We tried. We now have to go with Plan B.” The new ban, HB1293, has clear, clean language, which defines exceptions but excludes loopholes. A poll taken February first of 6,300 South Dakotans showed 55% favored the new bill and 45% did not, which was the reverse of last fall’s referendum outcome. Rep. Hunt did not think Planned Parenthood would call for a new referendum. While the other side has trained the public that the rape/incest exception is acceptable, Planned Parenthood trapped itself by stating a ban needed exceptions. Rep. Hunt thought Planned Parenthood would litigate the new ban in federal district court, asking for an injunction. The issue would be litigated in South Dakota for 1.5-2 years. Whoever loses would take it to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and then the Supreme Court. No one can know whether the Supremes would agree to hear the case or whether they will rule our way. In response to the concern that the South Dakota abortion ban would make its way through the courts prematurely, before the U. S. Supreme Court was decidedly pro-life, Rep. Hunt stated, “I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know the perfect time to introduce legislation of this nature. Every year that goes by millions of children die. I don’t know if waiting will help. But I do know this will energize people. We have to reverse thinking in the culture. This is one way.” Rep. Hunt is an attorney. He looks at all legal arguments before introducing legislation and therefore has a 65% success rate of bills introduced. “In this case,” said Hunt, “South Dakota has a couple of legal arguments”:
o “Our constitution says lawmakers are to protect life. Take that argument and our history, and you have a substantive argument in our favor based on the 10th Amendment clause. This is in the original Bill of Rights. If a particular power has not been granted to the federal government, it is reserved to the states. This gives considerable greats rights to states. The day is drawing closer that the Supreme Court will be faced with key states’ rights decisions. Just what, if any, are the limitations of the 10th Amendment?
o “Our other argument is there are 33 years of new information unknown to the 1973 Supreme Court. The best analogy is Brown vs. Board of Education . After Plessy vs. Ferguson , the NAACP came in with new information and the Supreme Court did a 180 degree turn.”
Rep. Hunt reminded “purists” that although the South Dakota ban has exceptions, if it invokes the Supreme Court to deactivate Roe v. Wade, many states have trigger laws in place with no exceptions. “So this bill could help them get their perfect bill enacted in their states,” said Hunt. Rep. Hunt read a quote from a Homily by Bishop Paul J. Swain of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls during his Mass for Life on Jan. 22, 2007: “Accepting the premise that a complete ban on abortions is not politically possible at this point, some ask whether Catholics could support legislation that allows exceptions for rape and incest. Without commenting on any specific proposal, there is in Catholic moral theology a principle of gradualism that would permit a Catholic in good conscience to support and vote for a lesser ban with the intention of diminishing as much evil as possible, and protecting the most life possible. It suggests while one would prefer to save all lives, saving nine out of ten lives if one is able is a good, of course deeply regretting that all ten cannot be saved. Supporting such a position must be done with the clear understanding that one is not compromising the principle of sanctity of all life, and that if and when the opportunity arises rescinding the exceptions would be sought.”