Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More on the new SD abortion ban

An update to the news that South Dakota is re-introducing their abortion ban. Yes, again.

The initial press release said that there "would be exceptions" for rape, incest, and the health of the woman - the absence of which was the reason that we were able to defeat the ban last November.

However, its inclusion of "exceptions" is a bit of an overstatement.

It makes it look good, sure. And it will be easy to confuse SD citizens into believing that the exceptions are legitimate, the way they did with the original ban last year, claiming that there was a health exception where there was, in fact....not.

But putting aside the fact that even with these exceptions, the ban would still be bullshit (see this rant for why)...the exceptions aren't even exceptions.
(See the text of the legislation here -- a .pdf file)

From this story on MSNBC, I found out more about how these "exceptions" would actually work. Or, as the case may be, would not work.
Let's outline them, shall we?

The Rape "Exception"
How You Prove You Deserve It: 1) Rapes must be reported to the police within 50 days of the rape.
2) A doctor must confirm that you have, in fact, been raped. And tell the police about this confirmation.
3) A doctor must take blood from the aborted fetus and provide it to the police for DNA testing so they can pursue your case.

Why It's Bullshit: 1) Why would anyone want to report their rape to the police? Unless you're the "ideal" rape victim (stranger-raped in a dark alley, wearing frumpy clothing, completely sober, and with no past history of substance abuse or sexual promiscuity), the judicial system is most likely not going to do anything for you. So-called "date rapes" (which is a shitty term, and does nothing but minimize the seriousness by putting a qualifier on "rape") are rarely ever reported, not least because they would be laughed out of the courtroom. The judicial system cannot handle most rape cases - most rape cases being NOT stranger-rapes of "pure" women.
2) I'm still not sure what "criteria" must be met in order for this doctor to confirm that a woman has been raped. Is it left to the doctor's discretion? Because that could be pretty ugly. Or are there strict, narrow definitions of what must be experienced in order for it to be considered a "legitimate" rape? That, too, would almost definitely be pretty ugly, and exclude a good number of women who have, in fact, been raped but don't quite fit into that little "ideal rape victim" box.
3) You don't want to press charges against your rapist? Too bad. The DNA from the aborted fetus is going to be used by the police anyway. Once they have the DNA, they don't need you anymore anyway, really. You have no choice of whether or not to prosecute. All while having the facade of choosing whether or not to have the rapist's child.

You don't want to report the rape? You can see that the system is (maybe irreparably) broken and don't want to put yourself into it just to be retraumatized? That's too bad. Guess you weren't "really" raped anyway. Because any "real" rape victim would, of course, be more than willing to prosecute her assailant. If you're not willing to report it to the police, you're probably just lying anyway.

The Incest "Exception":
How You Prove You Deserve It: 1) You must agree to report this to the police.
2) You must reveal the identity of your abuser to the doctor, and then to the police.
3) A doctor must take blood from the aborted fetus and provide it to the police for DNA testing so they can pursue your case.

Why It's Bullshit: 1) Again with the problems of reporting it to the police. Why would you want to?
2) Revealing the identity of your abuser can be exceedingly dangerous, especially if the case is unsuccessful. If you're a minor, you either return to the home where your abuser probably still resides (due to lack of evidence that a crime occurred), or you're sent off to a foster home to get stuck in the system. Yet another broken system. Not to mention the shame associated with incest is often unbearable; telling a doctor who it is would be hard enough, and having to repeat it for the case that will be pursued? I know I'd just drop it. I'd try to find a way to get over to Minnesota, or Iowa, or North Dakota. I'd take some anti-ulcer medication or find a nice hanger or find someone to perform a DIY abortion in the style of the old Jane collective. I'd do whatever it took, so long as I didn't have to face the shame or the likelihood that my abuser would not be "brought to justice."

The Health "Exception":
How You Prove You Deserve It: Not one, but two doctors must concur that your health would be "seriously jeopardized" by continuing the pregnancy. These doctors may not be at the same practice.

Why It's Bullshit: This one isn't quite as vomit-inducing as the others. But it's hardly benign. Requiring two doctors to agree is logistically problematic. If you're in a very rural town (as is true throughout much of SD) where there's only one doctor nearby, this could pose a serious problem. If you're in a place where the number of doctors is insufficient for the number of people (also true throughout much of SD), it could take days, maybe more, to get an appointment with a first doctor, let alone a second one. They would, presumably, then need to confer. Adding more days. Then, maybe, after what might by that point be close to two weeks, you'll be given permission to have an abortion. That is, if you can get to the Sioux Falls Planned Parenthood clinic, the only place in the state that provides abortions.
Oh, and then there's the bullshit language in the bill that states that the condition, if a woman were to go through with the pregnancy, would have to be "irreversible." Which could easily rule out, oh, just about everything short of death. So really, the health exception is just a death exception, dressed up all fancy-like.

As Coat Hangers At Dawn put it:
Rape or incest victims get no help unless they are willing to turn themselves, their lives and their bodies over to the state.

So don't be fooled by the double talk, this one is no better than the other one.

1 comment:

libhom said...

Thank you for your work defending human rights.

I have to say that I think the intent of this legislation is to thumb noses at the voters who overturned the last anti-choice law.