Paltrow: S.D. lawmakers aren’t being honest about abortion bill

Paltrow: S.D. lawmakers aren't being honest about abortion bill
Gov. Mike Rounds hasn't been honest.

Neither have most members of the South Dakota Legislature, according to Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women in New York.

Paltrow said lawmakers in the state aren't brave enough to admit that not just providers of abortion services, but also women who seek abortions, will be punished in South Dakota if HB 1215 is eventually approved.

Paltrow spoke to an audience of nearly 100 people April 5 in the Al Neuharth Media Center at The University of South Dakota.

Her lecture on this legal issue was sponsored by the American Constitution Society.

House Bill 1215, approved by the both the South Dakota House and Senate during the 2006 session and signed into law by Gov. Rounds, is based on conclusions of a South Dakota abortion task force. By passing the bill, the legislature agreed that life begins at conception and abortion in the state should be prohibited.

"It's my opinion that we can be a society that values born life and unborn life," she said, "but it's also my conclusion from the work that I've done that if the South Dakota ban on abortion is upheld ? then we are guaranteeing that pregnant women will lose their constitutional and human rights."

An abortion ban, she added, will "drastically" hurt maternal and fetal health.

Paltrow said more than half of women who have abortions today have already had children.

"They are already life givers," she said, "who for various reasons have had something happen in their lives where they feel they cannot continue (their pregnancies) to term."

South Dakota has adopted several laws that seek to establish the unborn as full legal persons, she said, including a feticide statute that makes the killing of an unborn child at any stage of prenatal development fetal homicide, manslaughter or vehicular homicide as well as a law that requires doctors to tell women that an abortion ends the life of "a whole separate, unique living human being."

The new law banning virtually all abortions states that it is based on the conclusion that life begins at conception and each human is unique at the time of fertilization.

"If the unborn are legal persons, as numerous South Dakota laws assert, then a pregnant woman who has an abortion can be prosecuted as a murderer under already existing homicide laws," she said.

Paltrow said that if a fetus is a person, as numerous South Dakota laws assert, than a pregnant woman who has an abortion can be prosecuted as a murderer under already existing homicide laws.

"Everything a pregnant woman does can become subject to state control," she said. Women who live downwind

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from coal-burning power plants can be forced to move because of the potential harm the pollution would cause the fetus. Pregnant women who drink or smoke can be arrested.

"This is not far-fetched," Paltrow said.

Rather than admit that HB 1215 will hurt pregnant women and mothers, South Dakota's legislators, she said, it pretends to protects them.

"In another age, we might expect the legislation would address such urgent women's health problems as breast and cervical cancer," Paltrow said. "Or the fact that over 88,000 South Dakotans � 12 percent of the state's population � are without health insurance."

Time and time again, she said, women from coast to coast, but particularly in South Dakota, are being labeled as murderers, killers and terminators because they choose to exercise their right to seek an abortion.

"I think we are in a very scary time where we are not talking about valuing life but rather de-valuing the people who give that life," Paltrow said.

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