Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
May 23, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

Czeslaw Milosz: A Life

Truthdig Bazaar
The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories

The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories

Nikolai Gogol, Donald Fanger, Priscilla Meyer

more items

Email this item Print this item

The Towering Solons of Abortion

Posted on Mar 7, 2006

By Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas—South Dakota is so rarely found on the leading edge of the far out, the wiggy, the California-esque. But it has now staked its claim. First to Outlaw Abortion This Century. The state legislature of South Dakota, in all its wisdom and majesty, a legislature comprised of sons and daughters of the soil from Aberdeen to Zell, have usurped the right of the women of that state to decide whether or not to bear the child of an unwanted pregnancy. They will decide. Women will do what they decide.

These towering solons, representing citizens from the great cosmopolitan centers of Rapid City and Sioux Falls to the bosky dells near Yankton, are noted for their sagacity and understanding. When you think “enlightenment,” the first thing that comes to your mind is “the South Dakota Legislature,” right?

As well it might. The purpose of the law is to force a decision from the United States Supreme Court, where the appointments of John Roberts and Sam Alito have now shored up the anti-choice forces.

The South Dakota Legislature has made it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion under any circumstances except to save the life of the mother. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or to preserve the health of the mother. Should this strike you as hard cheese, State Sen. Bill Napoli, R-Rapid City, explains how rape and incest could be exceptions under the “life” clause. Napoli believes most abortions are performed for “convenience,” but he told “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” about how he thinks a “real-life example” of the exception could be invoked:

“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl, could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”


Square, Site wide
Please stop and reread the paragraph above. See? Clearly Napoli’s exception would not apply to the South Dakota woman also interviewed by the NewsHour. “Michelle” is in her 20s, has a low-paying job and two children. And says she simply cannot afford a third. She drove five hours to the state’s only abortion clinic.

“It was difficult when I found out I was pregnant. I was saddened because I knew that I’d probably have to make this decision. Like I said, I have two children, so I look into their eyes and I love them. It’s been difficult, you know, it’s not easy. And I don’t think it’s, you know, ever easy on a woman, but we need that choice.”

But who is she to make that choice when Bill Napoli can make it for her? He explains: “When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn’t allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again. ... I don’t think we’re so far beyond that, that we can’t go back to that.”

I find this so profound I am considering putting Sen. Napoli in charge of all moral, ethical and medical decisions made by women. Certainly lucky for the women of South Dakota that he’s there, and perhaps that’s what we all need—a man to make decisions for us in case we should decide to do something serious just for our own convenience.

Look at some of the incompetent women we have running around in this country—Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, now there are a couple of girls in need of guidance from the South Dakota legislature. Female doctors, lawyers, airplane pilots, engineers and, for that matter, female members of the South Dakota Legislature—who could ever trust them with an important decision?

In South Dakota, pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives should it trouble their conscience, and some groups who worked on the anti-abortion bill believe contraception also needs to be outlawed. Good plan. After that, we’ll reconsider women’s property rights, civil right and voting rights.

For years, the women’s movement has been going around asking, “Who decides?” as though that were the issue. Well, here’s the answer. Bill Napoli decides, and if you’re not happy with that arrangement, well, you’d better be prepared to do something about it.

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments

By anthony, March 8, 2006 at 7:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What about the babies? Is murder a choice? Heard of adoption? Did you know that woman who have had an abortion are 4.5 more times likely to die within a year and seven times more likely to commit suicide within a year than those who gave birth?

Report this

By Christine Rose, March 8, 2006 at 7:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

South Dakota is known for many things, none of them progressive in civil rights. 

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Better Government Association based in Chicago recently ranked South Dakota as the worst state in the entire nation for laws that provide our citizens access to public meetings and public records. The very last - No. 51. (count included D.C.)

Conversations with those in government agencies involved in civil rights all declare, If you can break racism in SD, you will have done something no one thinks can be done.

A few years ago, an old Indian man was walking down the road and was killed when two people who drove by and “doored” him.  Kids?  Nope.  A banker and a rancher.  Their defense?  They were just having fun. 

I met a young girl there once who told me she had just broken up with someone she loved, it was a woman, but that didn’t make her gay.  I asked her what is wrong with being gay?  She answered, Oh, you can’t be gay in South Dakota.

So why on earth would women be able to rise above all that hatred and control and be entitled to have abortions? 

To learn more about the pimple on ass of our country, go to the link.  No opinions, all facts.

Report this

By Davlice Neufeld, March 8, 2006 at 6:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article homes in on the wrong point!  The debate is NOT over whether women whould be considered property, but rather if an unborn child should be considered to be property that can be disposed of at will.  Does a few months of inconvenience to a woman justify this disposal of an entire life?  Ultrasound is adding so much to our knowledge pertaining to unborn children that it is only a matter of time until Roe/Wade is overturned completely.

Report this

By Save A Baby, March 8, 2006 at 6:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Today, South Dakota; Tomorrow, the rest of the country!  Baby-killers are whiners.

Report this

By BK, March 8, 2006 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What most people on the left refuse to understand is the concept of federalism.  That includes Justice Blackman and those who decided Roe v. Wade.  It’s not about the “right to privacy”.  It’s about the 10th Amendment!!  All powers not delegated to the federal government remain with the states and the people.  Since the power to regulate abortion or anything like it was never granted to the federal government, it remains the purview of the states.  What left-wingers (socialists) really want is a one-size fits all policy that THEY agree with for the whole country, whether it’s about abortion or gay marriage.  All most conservatives want is for the issue to return to it’s constitutionally mandated proper place, the state legislatures, which is where it was for nigh on 200 years before Roe v. Wade came along.  For abortion to be regulated by the federal government would require a constitional amendment, which is highly unlikely.  But that’s just like the left to go for the end-run around the constitution when it suits their purposes, and then cry foul when anyone objects.  Puleeze!

Report this

By Barry, March 8, 2006 at 6:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Women’s Rights?  Hhhhmmm…

What about the rights of the child?  It is so hypocritical for a woman to say that no one can tell her what to do with her body, then turn right around and impose that very thing she opposes upon the life growing inside of her.  One of the greatest women’s rights activists voiced this sentiment in the late 1800’s.  Her name?  Elizabeth Cody Stanton.  Her position?  That to have an abortion is no better than slavery…it is not the woman who is being treated as a piece of property, but the child.

So,’s to all you slave-owners!

Report this

By Walter, March 8, 2006 at 6:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wonder if any of these “women” ever thought of birth control…or sterilization…or just keeping their legs closed ?

No…I guess not…bit I’m not concerned with the woman…she made her choice…only the baby’s rights are involved here.

Hmm…perhaps mandatory sterilization for any woman who wants an abortion and expects someone else to pay for it.

Report this

By Yarr, March 8, 2006 at 5:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s time to RAZE the SD legislator, the Governors office and brutally sodomize and rape all male members who voted for this bill. Maybe we can then blame them for turning on the rapists, wearing a sexy tie or just being at the wrong place at the at the right time…then hold them captive for 9 months watching video of the event…maybe they would change their tune…and if they don’t…well can we then enslave them for 18 years…taking 17% of their income…etc.

These self-righteous bastards need to live in the real world!

Report this

By hughe, March 8, 2006 at 12:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How brutal does the rape have to be?  Should women be encouraged to attempt to kill themselves to prove that their lives are really in danger if they are forced to carry to term?  Do you have to be a virgin to qualify for the trauma exception?  Should we start to document our virginity so we have the chance to qualify?  Do we need to be Christian? Should we endanger ourselves during a rape by fighting back so we can document bruises and broken bones?  Will we mandate DNA testing and enforce child support for these women and their children? 

All this is just talking around the point.

And when I discuss rape, I include incest as a form of rape because incest is the ultimate abuse of power and the ultimate betrayal of trust.

The real issue here is the issue that every rape survivor knows in her heart, her soul, snd her bones.  Rape is not about sex, it’s about the abuse of power and the rapist’s need for control.  The lack of an excetion for rape and incest speaks volumes about the mindset of the authors of this abusive law. 

The real issue is that women’s reproductive organs are something that men will never have.  This goes to the deep dark insecurities of those who have the need to force their will on others. They can never give carry life in their bodies.  They can only do it vicariously through their womenfolk.  Planting a seed is not the same, emotionally or physically, as being pregnant. Men simply can’t live without women. We are essential. This is scary to some. And that which is scary must be controlled.

A rape survivor who finds herself pregnant will be raped again by having control of her body taken away from her by this law.

It’s not about sex.  It’s not about what’s right.  It’s about their white knuckled grasp for control over the organs they will never have.

Report this

By R. A. Earl, March 7, 2006 at 9:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Me again… with another 2 cents worth…

There are two kinds of people in this world… those who recognize that most issues of significance in this life come in shades of grey - rarely pure black or pure white, rarely yes or no answers. These folk usually, in adulthood, accept that ambivalence and uncertainty are part and parcel of intelligent life, and get on with living it, judging issues on a case by case basis.

Then there are those who cannot tolerate any shade of grey. They NEED a book of hard and fast rules. They NEED a leader. They NEED to follow. They are as allergic to ambiguity as Superman is to Kryptonite. When faced with issues where answers lie on a “grey scale” they break into a sweat, have an anxiety attack, and latch onto, like iron filings to a magnet, the first closest-to-black or closest-to-white answer that crosses their path. At that point the issue becomes CLOSED… just like their minds. They go completely deaf to any reason or logic that might fly in the face of their “decision.” I suspect it has always been this way with we humans and I am not optimistic about it changing anytime soon.

While I think the healthiest society is one in which everyone, in safety and with respect, is free to participate as he or she sees fit (so long as such participation is not preventing anyone else from doing the same), I realize I’m dreaming in Technicolor to expect that society to exist anytime soon in the USA.

Might I suggest an alternative - that the political map of the USA be recolored to BLACK & WHITE CHECKERBOARD for the present RED states, and some nice middle-of-the-road GREY for today’s BLUE states.

There should be a federal government subsidy to assist anyone to move to the state which best suits his or her political, sociological, psychological and religious nature. Each state could choose it’s unchangeable place in this apartheid mosaic and all “birds of a feather” could nest there in uninterrupted peace and tranquility knowing their neighbors’ values, thoughts, feelings and practices were as similar to their own as humanly possible. No surprises. No variation. Everything predictable and the same, day in and day out. HEAVEN ON EARTH.

Oh sure, we’d all be allowed occasional, short “cross-border” visits to “foreign” states but there’d be no MOVING from state to state without official permission to do so, and that would only be given after extensive psychiatric testing and legal formalities had been successfully processed.

This abortion issue, along with other seemingly intractable challenges such as the death penalty and homosexual marriage, will NEVER be resolved to satisfy everyone in a heterogeneous but intolerant society such as the USA is rapidly becoming.

And since there are so many who simply cannot tolerate a “different strokes for different folks” community… the only sensible solution seems to be to segregate the people according to their prejudices and beliefs into, may I dare use the word, “homogeneous” enclaves.

With 50 “Shades of Pale” from which to choose most of us should be able find a place where we each can feel comfortably superior to all the rest.

Report this

By Layne, March 7, 2006 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“...women’s property rights…?” You miss the point, Ms. Ivins. It’s women AS property. No rights.

Report this

By Henry M. Wytanis, March 7, 2006 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m sure if you’re reading Molly ,you didn’t vote for G.W. to start with. We all realized he was going to appoint at least one Justice, we just didn’t know he was going to get two.This was on their agenda from day 1. Can’t we give S.D. to Canada?

Report this

By lindy green, March 7, 2006 at 5:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As everybelly knows, rich people and doctors’ wives were always able to get safe abortions since time immemorial.  Just ask George Bush!
So, now, it’s coat hangers and knitting needles for everyone else, once again.

Report this

By morgan lamberth, March 7, 2006 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

faith-based thinking-stupidity ;the right wing nuts hav e mush faith .

Report this

By Bluestocking, March 7, 2006 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Bill Napoli decides, and if you’re not happy with that arrangement, well, you’d better be prepared to do something about it.”

I know it sounds somewhat callous to say this, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If the women of Rapid City are unhappy with Napoli’s decision, well…if they voted for him or didn’t vote at all, they’re simply reaping what they’ve sown to some degree. Everything has a dark side, and democracy is no exception—the dark side in this case being that the freedom to make one’s voice heard places more responsibility on the individual to think for oneself, to make informed choices, and to accept the consequences for being apathetic or not taking accountability for the decisions one makes…

Having said this, there are some things which women in South Dakota and across the United States can do. The simplest one, of course, is to start paying more attention to politics and to one’s own opinions instead of simply accepting what someone else says without really thinking about it—just because the other person claims to have your best interests at heart doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re telling the truth! Another is to start making your voice heard, first and foremost at the ballot box. Finally, while this solution may seem somewhat radical, consider relocating to an area in which the politics are more in line with your principles. Perhaps if more women were willing to take such a strong stance as to leave those areas where their concerns are not being addressed, they would get more respect…

As a woman of child-bearing age, if the day should ever come when the government tells me that I have no right to decide what happens to my own body (especially since a considerable number of those opposed to abortion also oppose contraception), I for one will be tempted to take a page out of Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata” and suggest that other women do the same. Laugh if you will—but at least in the play, IT WORKED. The Religious Right voices no objection to medications like Viagra which address male impotency and thus facilitate sex, even when they’re advertised on television—but they object to medications which prevent the natural consequences of sex, which is blatantly hypocritical to my way of thinking. If I’m not allowed to have a say in the matter of when I have child,  I’ll be damned if I’m going to give someone else the power to make that decision for me.

Report this

By Konnie, March 7, 2006 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

me thinks Rep.Napoli should contact “Michelle” and offer to adopt her and her 2 children.  Provide room and board for her and her two children thru her pregnancy, and then continue to support this family of 4 until all three children have graduated from college, and see that “Michelle” has a comfortable retirement.  Maybe he could also send “Michelle” to college too, so she could earn a living wage to supplement her care by Napoli…......

oh its not about that, is it!

It’s exactly about that!  Every person that is against abortion should be forced to adopt any woman seeking an abortion and her child.  After all the right doesn’t want them hitting the welfare line either….........

Report this

By Erik, March 7, 2006 at 11:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Despite the protestations of senators and nominees that they should not have to answer questions about cases that may come before them on the Court, I find it almost impossible to believe that the administration that nominated Justices Roberts and Alito did not know exactly how they would rule on certain matters—abortion in particular—should a challenge to Roe make its way up to the Supremes.  And all you have to do is look at the administration’s position on medical marijuana and assisted suicide to realize that they intend to create federal anti-abortion legislation.

Report this

By Anthony, March 7, 2006 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess just an ordinary run-of-the-mill rape wouldn’t count under Sen. Napoli’s concept of exception. The man actually believes there are levels of rape, and obviously, some acceptable levels of rape. If the woman isn’t “brutally raped, savaged”, then whatever happens next is of no consequence to Sen. Napoli.

My advice to women who are date-raped is to encourage the molester to also sodomize her “as bad as you can possibly make it”—just to cover her bases.

Report this

By Hal, March 7, 2006 at 9:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What has happened politically in South Dakota?  This is a state that elected George McGovern and Tom Daschle repeatedly.  It used to sit within hailing distance of the political center.  It borders Minnesota.

When and how did it get taken over by these prairie ayatollahs?  How much of the country has gone down the same path?

We need to know the causes and nature of the disease before it can be cured.  I am a New Yorker, so this is all foreign to me.  It’s almost like reading about the mores of Pakistan, except that those nuts in SD can have an effect on me.

Report this

By Greg W. Andersen, March 7, 2006 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If this is the type of person in a position of power we are all in trouble.

If this issues really is an issue over taking a life, consider this;

1.) The death penalty takes a life?
2.) War takes lives? (even Bush’s War)
3.) Abortion in the case of insest or
when it threatens the mother is taking a life?

If you look at the logic, this just does not make any logical sense.

If you define abotrion as “taking a life” and as our glorious leader and all the right wing nuts tell us we want a culture of “life” then you would have to outlaw war and the death penalty.

Unlesss, you want to use the “power” to decide who lives or dies on your own. 

This is the real crux of the matter.  If God does not want us to “take a life”  “thou shalt not kill” then that means for “any” reason. 

If the republicans and right wing nuts feel they should have the power to decide “when” to take a life(war, protect a mother, rape…) then isn’t that like playing god?  Isn’t that like adding an 11th commandment: 

Here then is our new 11th commandment. 
“Thau shalt not kill unless the current ruling party deems it necessary for religious or political gain”

I am sure god won’t mind the “amendment” to the Ten commandments since Bush has jesus as his closest cabinet member.

Bottom line.  America is a free country and to let any religious group dictate Morals, or the religion of preference sets us back to the salem witch trials, the crusades and the inquisition.

I am proud to be an American but lately, I am embarrassed at the ame time.  The world is laughing.

Report this

By Crackbaby, March 7, 2006 at 7:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

South Dakota’s bane, State Senator Bill Napoli (R-Uterus), displayed the arrogant stupidity of the right-wingers when he created his own mythological history to support his party’s invasion of privacy.

Napoli’s example of historical precedents set when dealing with out-of-wedlock pregnancy was not only wrong, it was really wrong. Contrary to his Pollyanna hindsight, unwanted pregnancies have been aborted since women could do it.  The only thing that has changed is that women don’t have to die now, or deal with criminals or spend their entire savings, when they make the decision to end a pregnancy.  But that history, wouldn’t be useful becuase it doesn’t support the extremist’s need to control reproduction of others (a very predictable evolutionary anachronism: control reproduction and you control resources and you win, over generational time). 

So, women of America, remember who voted to control your health care when you wake up with a video camera between your legs and State Senator Bill Napoli’s eyes scanning the footage.

Report this

By Homey, March 7, 2006 at 4:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was born and raised in Slodak, where I learned the state motto: Under God the People Rule.
I suggest the Legislature in all its wizdom change the motto’s last word to Drool.

Report this

By jason kennedy, March 7, 2006 at 3:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“In South Dakota, pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives should it trouble their conscience…”

i kind of like this approach. i think the riposte should be that pharmacists who are similarly troubled by hypocrisy can refuse to provide emergency contraception to people they know to be religious. “sorry, miss, but that’s against YOUR religion…” and “sorry, sir, i appreciate you’re going out of town with your secretary, but i know you’re a god-fearing man, and so those condoms are off limits….”

my point is i don’t think until the religious right are frozen out of accessing services that conflict with the standards they assert others must live up to, that you will see them making any changes to their views. i have similar view that these religious types should be barred from strip clubs, accessing internet porn, subscribing to sex channels, etc. if they want theocracy, let’s have a big American Register of True Believers and they can be opted out from all forms of vice and the rest of us can continue on our merry way.

Report this

Page 2 of 2 pages  <  1 2

Right Top, Site wide - Care2
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide

Like Truthdig on Facebook