Rep. Peggy Gibson (D-22/Huron)

Rep. Peggy Gibson (D-22/Huron)

In floor debate yesterday, Rep. Peggy Gibson (D-22/Huron) gave the most compelling argument against South Dakota's abortion-oppression bill, HB 1217. Rep. Gibson deserves a blog post of her own. I paraphrase extensively her courageous rebuttal to the woman-hating, big-government hogwash peddled by sponsor Roger Hunt.

Rep. Gibson rose in "vehement opposition" to HB 1217. She pointed out that we South Dakotans have twice voted to leave the abortion issue alone, but that the Legislature doesn't get the message. (Cue Senator Rhoden to say we're a republic, not a democracy.)

Gibson decried (as Republicans do when it suits their purposes) government intrusion into people's private medical decisions. HB 1217 is just another government mandate, an extreme 72-hour delay to abortion care. South Dakota would be first state to apply such an extreme mandate on women's health care. Rep. Gibson said that Attorney General Marty Jackley himself anticipates HB 1217 will get South Dakota sued and cost us a million-plus to litigate.

Rep. Gibson noted that HB 1217 requires women seeking an abortion to make three separate trips, which is a huge burden on rural women and poor women. HB 1217 discriminates and restricts poor women's access to health care. The wait time, said Gibson, also increases the health risks for women.

Rep. Gibson railed against the notion that, in the name of preventing coercion, the state would force women to submission to in-person lectures from non-qualified faith-based volunteers at anti-choice pregnancy centers, even if it's against their will. What about the rules on health privacy, she asked. HB 1217 makes no requirement that the counselors at the pregnancy help centers have any medical certification or training. HB 1217 would force women to share personal medical information with volunteers who could turn into the town gossip.

Rep. Gibson expressed concern that HB 1217 forbids bringing a loved one to provide support during the counseling. This "private" counseling constitutes "harassment, propaganda, and coercion."

Alongside the constitutional, medical, and moral concerns, Rep. Gibson said HB 1217 should be voted down on fiscal grounds. It is an unfunded mandate. It requires the Department of Health to maintain a registry of anti-abortion propaganda centers but provides no specific cost figure or funding mechanism.

"No woman should be misled when seeking medical care or be compelled to submit to a lecture regarding her personal health care choices from anyone they do not want to be involved," said Rep. Gibson. HB 1217 makes the demeaning and erroneous assumption that women aren't making good choices and can't do so without government interference.

Representative Gibson is one of just 19 members of the House who voted to protect the rights, autonomy, and Constitutional equality of my wife and daughter yesterday. Thank you, Representative Gibson.