by Alison Hoover | POINT: There are alternatives to abortion.
On November 7, South Dakota voters will face a choice—about choice. They will decide on a referendum to decide the fate of HB 1215, the Women’s Health and Human Life Protection Act. This referendum essentially negates the effects of Roe v. Wade in South Dakota, as it would outlaw all abortions, making exceptions only those cases where the mother’s life is in danger. There is no exception for cases of rape or incest. The twist, though, is the angle pro-lifers take in campaigning: they don’t talk about morals and they don’t show graphic images. Instead, they focus on the welfare of the mother. This group of pro-lifers argues correctly that abortion is detrimental to a woman physically and psychologically. However, they should not consider abortion solely a detrimental effect of society and therefore absent women of any blame.
What many “pro-choice” activists fail to realize is that the opposite of the pro-life view truly is anti-life. Life begins at conception. This fact does not adapt to the circumstances that caused conception to occur—as in, whether the sex was consensual. A life is alive despite how it began. A child cannot voice its opinion regarding whether it wants to be conceived through rape or consensual sex. While the mother also does not have this choice in the case of rape, the child also has no voice regarding abortion, a case in which the child is the worst victim.
The campaign in favor of the South Dakota referendum has taken a novel, effective, and accurate approach in reaching out to voters across the state. Abortion does harm the mother, as evidenced by the many support groups for women who have aborted children around the country. Even Norma McCorvey, also known as Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, publicly announced that she changed her mind regarding abortion 33 years after the decision. She even went so far as to petition the Supreme Court to reverse its decision. A 2002 study linked abortion to depression. Many women have spoken out and joined non-profit organizations dedicated to counseling women after having an abortion or to help them find alternatives to the procedure. This documented harm provides substantial reasoning to vote in favor of the referendum.
While the South Dakota campaign accurately depicts the harm abortion causes to the mother, the campaign, along with the referendum itself, fails to hold women accountable for their decision to have an abortion. The law would make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion, but the mother would not be punished. The campaign in favor of the referendum claims women are victims of a society that coerces them to “choose” abortions in order to pursue other goals, such as finishing college or having a successful career. They also say that the two biggest factors causing women to have abortions are pressure from the males in their life who will pay for an abortion but won’t pay child support and the mothers’ own inability to support their children. This law would support the idea that women are incapable of making decisions on their own, and therefore they can’t be punished for their decisions. Women cannot be excused from the consequences of their decisions regarding abortion merely because they are more vulnerable than at most other times of their lives.
Instead of excusing women of blame, South Dakotans should pass this new referendum into law, but also supplement it with increased help and information for women facing unwanted pregnancies. Since excusing them from blame merely perpetuates the victimization of women, increasing a woman’s support network helps her break free from victimhood. Many resources already exist that many women don’t realize when they choose to have an abortion. For example, there are already laws in place to compel men to pay child support, even if they say they won’t. According to current laws, a man does not have a choice between paying for an abortion and paying for child support. There are also non-profit organizations across the country that will help women obtain food, clothing, housing, and furniture for her growing family. These centers also provide classes to help women plan their future, and to help women and men become good parents. While many not-for-profit pro-abortion centers such as Planned Parenthood deride these centers as detrimental, close-minded, anti-abortion centers, they are actually one of the best examples of the benefits of the private sector and the power of non-governmental organizations. The government should not “push for the free distribution of birth control in every public school in America,” as Benjamin Bell suggested in an October 23 Daily Viewpoint. While the government can prevent certain evils through legislation, it is not equipped nor was it created to devise legislation instructing citizens on how to solve all the nation’s problems. Organizations such as Feminists for Life, along with smaller local groups, are one of the best examples of the effectiveness of individual citizens who are passionate about an issue. This driving passion will lead them to create far better solutions than the members of the distant federal government.
On November 7, South Dakota voters should vote in favor of unborn children and their mothers. They should not believe their job is finished at the polls. After passing the anti-abortion referendum, South Dakotans should reinforce the law with non-profit, private sector organizations to help women learn more about the options available, and they should provide resources to women who have unintended or unwanted pregnancies. With this help, a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy will have more options open to her. A woman shouldn’t have to choose between a successful future and the life of her unborn child.
Miss Hoover is a junior majoring in Political Science.