Yesterday, South Dakota banned all abortions except those to save the life of the mother when the pro-life governor of the state, Michael Rounds, signed legislation severely restricting reproductive choice.
According to the New York Times, Rounds released a statement after signing the legislation saying:
"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. I agree with them."
Speaking of the vulnerable and the helpless, the South Dakota ban does not include any exceptions for women who have been raped or are the victims of incest. Ain't Life grand?
Planned Parenthood has vowed to fight the bill and will likely launch an effort to get the ban overturned in a statewide referendum in November. If that fails, they'll fight the ban in court, likely in front of the Supreme Court.
Here in Maine, members of the Maine Choice Coalition - the Maine Women's Lobby, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and the Maine Family Planning Association - don't have any local demonstrations planned in response to South Dakota's ban but they are fighting their own battle on local soil. In response to what they believe could be a pro-life shift among politicians elected to serve in Augusta, the Coalition plans to work to get pro-choice state reps, senators, and governors into office to prevent any South-Dakota style rewind here.
"We're going to use this [ban] as a way to engage voters and show them and educate them about how important it is to vote prochoice when it comes to elected officials," says Lyndsay Santeusanio, grassroots organizer at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which is based in Scarborough.
Santeusanio says PPNE is planning registration drives, canvassing, and polling-place efforts for November.
"We are seeing strong efforts to restrict access to reproductive privacy and to abortion in the state of Maine from opponents to choice like Maine Right to Life and the Christian Civic League and their legislative allies," says Sarah Standiford, executive director of the Maine Women's Lobby.
So, there's no need to drive to South Dakota. Just show up at the Maine polls. Or email the governor of South Dakota to rant or applaud, depending on your proclivities.