Last Monday, South Dakota passed legislation banning virtually all abortions in the state, and, according to an Associated Press article published earlier this week in the Skiff, “setting up a court fight aimed at challenging the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.” This decision is better known as Roe v. Wade, one of the most controversial Supreme Court rulings of all time.The South Dakota bill would make it a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, for doctors or others to perform an abortion unless it was necessary to save the mother’s life. There would be no exceptions for rape, incest, drug complications, or numerous other complex situations. Never mind the fact that it could be a situation in which all of the above were elements of the equation.
It’s not likely that all these factors would clash in one instance, but what about cases where the pregnancy will undoubtedly yield a child with severe mental and/or physical health complications? If you ask me, it should be up to the child, but since we can’t ask an unborn person to answer that question, doesn’t it make sense to ask the closest person to that unborn child?
I’m not pro-choice. I believe that in most cases, abortion is an unacceptable choice. I also believe that in isolated instances, like those described above, abortion should at least be an available option. South Dakota has made this option obsolete, which will ultimately cause more than a few mothers and their children physical and emotional pain.
I think there is a fine line between acceptable and unacceptable reasons for abortion. I’m not about to draw that line. In fact, I’m not quite sure where it should be drawn. It might be impossible to draw that line, but it most certainly is not impossible to get a little closer than South Dakota has.
The bill will inevitably open up a whole new debate about when a mother’s life is considered in danger. Where is the line drawn as to when the mother’s life is in danger? It’s another gray area, a color that will forever be associated with this topic.
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said: “In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society.”
If unborn children are the most helpless people in our society, a 16-year-old rape victim can’t be far behind.
I don’t believe that a teenager and her boyfriend should be able to decide to get an abortion simply because they don’t want to raise the child. There is adoption, a wonderfully attractive alternative to abortion in instances like this.
The good thing (one of few good things) about this bill is that it erases abortion from the list of options in these cases.
In reality, there is no single solution to the abortion problem. I think leaving it solely to the discretion of the mother (as in Roe v. Wade) isn’t a great idea. But, at the same time, I believe it is much more of a decision to be made by the mother than a decision to be made by a state bill.
According to the AP article in the Skiff, the law will be tied up in court for years and will probably not take effect unless the Supreme Court upholds it. If that happens, it will be a pioneer for similar legislation, something that could ultimately take the choice of abortion out of mothers’ hands and put it into the hands of the law.
Dan Plate is a freshman pre-business major from Ogallala, Neb. His column appears every Friday.