By Rick Weiland and Tiffany Campbell
Some believe that life begins at the moment of conception and that tampering in any way with even a minute old, fertilized egg is murder and should be punished as such.
Others believe that life begins when a fetus is delivered and that terminating a pregnancy for any reason at any stage before that is the right of the woman who is carrying it.
Most of us, though, reject these two extremes and believe instead that a commonsense balance, even on this most emotionally charged of all public issues, can be achieved.
For generations America had achieved that commonsense balance between the rights of the living woman and the unborn fetus. That balance was enshrined in our Constitution by Roe v. Wade, the historic Supreme Court decision giving women the right to decide whether to carry to term during the earlier stages of pregnancy but states the right to limit that choice during later stages.
That balance is now gone, abolished by two new extremist justices who pledged under oath not to violate the Roe v. Wade balance, then destroyed it entirely at their first opportunity.
Dakotans for Health seeks to restore that Roe v. Wade balance by writing it as word for word as is legally possible into our South Dakota Constitution.
Governor Noem boasted last year that no state in the nation has a more extreme anti-woman abortion law than South Dakota. As of now the law our Pierre politicians have enacted stands with those of just three other states as the most extreme anti-woman abortion law in America. They have used the permission given them by an extremist Supreme Court to adopt a breathtakingly extreme set of chains that now shackle every woman in South Dakota.
Under our current law anyone who helps a woman in any way to terminate any pregnancy (even one resulting from rape or incest), at any stage, and in any manner, including by doctors’ prescription of mifepristone, is a felon subject to imprisonment.
Under our law a husband whose wife has been criminally assaulted becomes a felon if he helps his wife terminate a pregnancy that resulted from her rape.
Under our law grandparents who help a 13-year-old terminate a pregnancy resulting from incest are also felons.
Ditto any doctor who believes he or she is helping a patient escape a dangerous pregnancy but whose diagnosis is later challenged.
And if you are a 40-year-old married woman working two jobs to support your four young children our law condemns you to carry the unwanted child in your body for nine months without the slightest regard for your rights or the disastrous effects it could have on your marriage, your children, or your health.
In every case our law says you the adult woman have virtually no rights because the politicians in Pierre have given all of them to a minute old fetus instead.
Fortunately for all of us our state invented the ballot initiative. South Dakota was first in the nation to empower its citizens to overrule their politicians.
We at Dakotans for Health believe if there were ever a time those politicians needed to be overruled, it is now. Over 600 of us are already circulating petitions to restore our Roe rights in the simplest, fairest, most direct way possible, by writing them into our South Dakota constitution.
The Pierre politicians who put the interests of the rapist before those of the victim, the men who made their extremism our law, will, of course, claim we who oppose them are the extremists. Already they are falsely claiming our proposed amendment to restore Roe rights in South Dakota would approve abortion "all the way to birth," ban parental consent, force doctors to perform abortions, and do pretty much anything else they can think of that might turn people against it. In reply to their lie that our amendment, not the obviously extreme laws they have written, is what is extreme we have a three-word reply.
Our amendment codifies Roe v. Wade, period.
Our amendment gives South Dakotans back the rights the Pierre politicians and two new extremist Supreme Court justices have stolen from them, period.
Most South Dakotans -- and most Americans -- reject the extremist positions on either side of the abortion debate. We as Americans do not believe a forced pregnancy caused from rape should be protected over the rights of moms. We also do not believe that late term abortion on a whim should be a protected right. That balance is what was held just and wise in the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. It alone is the balance we ask South Dakotans to write into our constitution.
Our hope is that all of us, whatever our personal beliefs, might come together on one belief, that the people have the right to decide. That is why we ask for your help in signing and circulating our petition to put the restoration of Roe v. Wade on the South Dakota ballot in 2024 – go to www.dakotans4health.com and join our campaign!
We invite those who disagree to campaign vigorously for their views. We will gladly meet them in respectful debate. We will not, however, respect nor tolerate their open threats against our petition circulators. The nose-to-nose intimidation of young women asking their neighbors to sign our petition, intimidation which has been openly threatened by our opponents, will be fought. Should it result in injury of any kind to any of our circulators, police will be called and the extremists who incite such violence will be prosecuted and sued.
On behalf of our 600+ volunteer petition circulators, on behalf of women, of men, and of all people who believe in freedom and fairness, we hope this coming debate will not come to that. Instead, we wish every South Dakotan a New Year of happiness in which the right to decide will be restored to the people, extremism will be rejected, and the people will decide according to their personal beliefs and their South Dakota common sense.
About the authors:
Rick Weiland is the Founder of Dakotans for Health and a longtime advocate for women’s reproductive rights.
Tiffany Campbell became a reproductive rights advocate in 2006 when she needed an abortion to save the life of one of her twins and currently works with Dakotans for Health as a grassroots organizer.
Learn more about Tiffany Campbell’s story HERE.
You can turn-in and notarize petitions with us every THURSDAY from 5pm-7pm and SATURDAY from 10am-1pm at DADA GASTROPUB BY ICON 402 N MAIN AVE, SIOUX FALLS SD.
If you are outside of the Sioux Falls area please send your notarized petitions to us at DAKOTANS FOR HEALTH, PO BOX 2063, SIOUX FALLS, SD 57101.
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