So long, Roe v. Wade

It’s been nice knowing you. Planned Parenthood already has begun to rally the troops.

Adri Mehra

Relatively quietly and without much political ceremony or volume, the South Dakota Legislature handily passed a state law last week banning abortion under any circumstances except when the life of the pregnant mother is endangered by childbirth.

Unbelievably, there would be no provisions or exceptions for cases involving the brutality of rape or incest, or even the very health of the mother ñ- protections clearly supported by recent Supreme Court decisions, as well as President George W. Bush himself, as he disclosed in an interview with ABC News.

Doctors who violate the new law, which would become effective July 1 if Republican Gov. Mike Rounds signs it (and he’d like to), would face as many as five years in prison for following 35 years of established national law by granting a woman’s right to an abortion. However, no one should be under the illusion that this decision has anything to do with “protecting the lives of the unborn” in an arcadian state where last year a mere 800 legal abortions were performed, and all at South Dakota’s only abortion clinic, operated by Planned Parenthood.

Forget about preventing unplanned pregnancies. In its report last December, the laughably named South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion (appointed by Rounds) made zero recommendations about more comprehensive sex education or increasing access to birth control, both of which would reduce the number of abortions far more than killing rights would.

No, this is far less about nebulous pro-life “justice” than it is about unadulterated political expediency ñ- the anti-choice army firing the opening shot in a long-simmering hyperconservative legal crusade whose creepy pièce de résistance would be the complete annihilation of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision recognizing abortion rights in 1973’s Roe v. Wade.

Wondering why this is only happening right now in the 30-plus year life span of women’s constitutional right to privacy? Could it have something to do with smug neocon stooges like John Roberts and Samuel Alito being appointed to sully the robes of the highest court in the land? With the lack of a sensible moderate like former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to swing a 5-4 vote to a nonconservative view (and exercise simple judicial restraint), anti-choice maximalists are drooling at the bit at their chance to rewrite history as if women’s rights never existed.

Both ideological sides understand that this entire legislative action in politically barren South Dakota is nothing more than an avowed publicity stunt by proxy, meant to spark a civil war galvanizing both pro-life and pro-choice resources in a chimerical clash of the titans that will blaze its own trail of tears straight to our nation’s capital.

Of course, Planned Parenthood already has begun to rally the troops for just such a battle.

If Rounds signs this “trigger bill” into law, Planned Parenthood plans to immediately file a lawsuit to keep it from going into effect.

In addition, on the popular front, the Women’s Medical Fund, based in Madison, Wis., has called for a boycott of South Dakota’s $2 billion tourism industry. Guess I won’t be frequenting such beloved American hallmarks as the Corn Palace, the Sturgis motorcycle rally or Wall Drug this summer. To endure the tedium until then, you can order your “Why Does South Dakota Hate Rape Victims?” bumper sticker for $3.99 on CafePress.com.

It’s already listed as a bestseller, so I can only assume there have been more than 800 sold, or more than one sticker-per-abortion ratio as far as the ol’ Mount Rushmore State goes.

Ah, the vagaries of the Internet, and those of us who are being forced to use it to further women’s rights.

Adri Mehra welcomes comments at [email protected]