Happy Valentine's Day, ladies: just as I warned, out-of-state activist Harold Cassidy is back, sticking his nose in South Dakota women's business. But since he's working for the "family-values" wing of the GOP to continue their treatment of women as property and nincompoops, he gets a free pass from the powers that be to meddle in our politics.

David Montgomery gets Cassidy's take on House Bill 1237, Rep. Jon Hansen's mean-spirited effort to make South Dakota's 72-waiting period for abortions even longer:

Harold Cassidy, a lawyer representing two crisis pregnancy centers who are defending the 2011 abortion law in court, said HB1237 is not about giving the woman time to reflect on her own — which she could do on a weekend or holiday — but to seek out counseling, which might be closed then.

“One of the other purposes (of the bill) is to provide the woman with the opportunity to seek out counseling from other persons or individuals within the pregnant mother’s natural support system, such as the woman’s regular care physician, who’s never going to be open on a Saturday or a Sunday, or such as a clergy member,” Cassidy said [David Montgomery, "S.D. Legislature: Abortion Waiting Period May Get Longer," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.02.14].

Provide women with an opportunity... that phrase ought to set off your B.S. meters. HB 1237 takes away opportunities for women to seek medical care at the times that work for them, their families, and their employers. Women already have the opportunity to seek such counseling from the people in their lives. If they want to go see their regular doctors, they will. If they want more time to talk to family, friends, and clergy, they'll take that time. They don't need Harold Cassidy or Jon Hansen to legislate that time for them.

Cassidy claims that by offering abortion consultations on Fridays so women can get their state-mandated "counseling" on the weekend and schedule their abortions for Mondays, Planned Parenthood is trying to "frustrate the woman’s efforts to require the counseling that she needs and that’s required."

But that's also baloney. Read the law establishing the 72-hour waiting period that Rep. Hansen is trying to extend by not counting weekends and holidays. SDCL 34-23A-56 says that a woman seeking an abortion in South Dakota "must have a consultation at a pregnancy help center." I don't see in that statute or any of the associated statutes passed in 2011 with the 72-hour waiting period an exception that says a woman can skip the PHC propaganda session. No PHC consultation, no abortion.

Even if a woman comes to Planned Parenthood Friday for a consultation, can't get into a PHC over the weekend, then lies on the written statement she has to provide to the doctor saying, "Yup, I visited a PHC to be harangued over exercising my constitutional right to bodily autonomy," the doctor can't perform the abortion without facing the possibility of a $10,000 civil penalty.

And since the existing abortion-harassment statute specifically exempts pregnancy health centers from "any duties or liability," Leslee Unruh and South Dakota's other anti-abortion propagandists already hold the fate of women seeking abortions in their hands. If the PHCs don't want to be open on Saturday and Sunday, they don't have to be. The PHCs already have the practical authority, unchecked by state law, to extend a woman's waiting period for a legal abortion indefinitely.

The PHCs don't need HB 1237. Its supporters can achieve their nasty goals entirely under existing statute. Real conservatives should read that line and vote an easy Nay. But real conservatives should also keep government out of women's vaginas.

The pious pro-life preening begins in front of House Judiciary tomorrow morning (Friday, Feb. 15), 10:00 a.m. CST.