I thought Senate Health and Human Services' deadlock on House Bill 1162, the sex-selective-abortion ban, offered us some hope for rational restraint on anti-abortion laws in the South Dakota Legislature. I should have known better than to get optimistic.

Concerns about women's rights and anti-Asian-American stereotypes be darned, Senate HHS voted yesterday to advance an amended version of HB 1162 to the full Senate. Senator Deb Soholt (R-14/Sioux Falls) came back into the room and joined Senator Jim Bradford (D-27/Pine Ridge) to vote against the bill. But two Republicans who voted against the bill Monday, Dr. R. Blake Curd of Sioux Falls and Bruce Rampelberg of Rapid City, switched and made the vote 5 to 2. Grrr.

There's no convincing the South Dakota Legislature that women ought to have access to a safe and legal medical procedure unfettered by legislative stigmatization and harassment. But among the offenses of HB 1162 is the expansion of South Dakota's violation of the First Amendment through compelled speech. HB 1162 forces doctors to add more state-driven statements to their medical exams, requiring doctors to interrogate women as to the sex of their fetuses, what those women have done to determine that sex, and when they did it.

Doctors don't need this information to carry out this medical procedure and protect the health of their patients. Doctors are being forced by the state to prolong their medical procedures, increase the stress patients experience in the examination room, and ultimately participate in deterring women from exercising their rights.

We still get two chances to beat HB 1162. The Senate will vote, then send it to conference to resolve the differences from the House version. Ladies, doctors, lady doctors, call your Senators, and tell them to back off.


House Bill 1180 is an anti-child, anti-woman, anti-knowledge bill masquerading under the guise of fairness. This bill, now just one vote away from heading to Governor Dennis Daugaard's desk, makes South Dakota's bad abortion restrictions even worse by prohibiting organizations that offer either abortion services or adoption services from offering the state's mandatory browbeating of women seeking abortions.

HB 1180's lead Senate sponsor, Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen), says he's just trying to maintain a level playing field:

The roles of the pregnancy care centers are to counsel, educate and assist, according to Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, the bill’s lead Senate sponsor.

“One of my definitions of neutral is you’re not making money at it,” he said.

Some people in the adoption business sought to be centers, too.

“That is a conflict of interest,” Novstrup said.

Planned Parenthood makes money from abortions and adoption agencies make money from adoptions, he said [Bob Mercer, "New Rule Would Restrict Offerings of Adoption Services," Aberdeen American News, 2014.02.27].

Neutrality is the last thing Senator Novstrup and his abortion-obsessed colleagues want. They are trying to corral every woman in the state into the lying propaganda centers their 2011 abortion law authorizes to peddle their very specific, very ideological anti-abortion message.

If Senator Novstrup and the other sponsors of HB 1180 were really interested in helping women, they wouldn't oppress them with a 72-hour waiting period or patronize them with a requirement that they undergo counseling before would making a decision that Novstrup et al. think women are not capable of making on their own. Even we accepted the notion that all women considering an abortion are in such dire need of counseling that the state must force them into such counseling, a wise and fair Legislature would open the doors for experts of all sorts to help women obtain this required counseling.

Why not let the health care providers who know the most about abortion, the ones who actually perform abortions, explain to women what abortion involves?

Why not let dedicated professionals who know the most about adoption, the ones who make adoptions happen, share their knowledge and experience with women so they can get the best advice as to whether adoption is the right course for them to pursue?

Senator Novstrup professes fairness, but fairness would allow women to choose to get their information from the best, most experienced, most knowledgeable experts in the field of reproduction-related services. Senator Novstrup would rather use HB 1180 to block women from such expertise and force them into the clutches of a narrow group of know-nothing ideologues who will use the state's mandate to guilt and shame and lie all the women they can into conforming to their political goal of banning all abortions.

House Bill 1180 makes a bad law worse. If the Senate doesn't have the wisdom to vote it down, Governor Daugaard should recall his experience with the Children's Home Society, recall the good that adoption providers do for women and families and need, and veto this bill so women at least have a chance to get expert information from caring, experienced professionals who just want to help families do the right thing, not peddle a politico-religious agenda.


...and has to help kill an abortion ban.

Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey is having a tough week. He saw two measures he sponsored defeated in committee, and he had to help kill a third that he decided was too risky to support.

This morning, amidst hard, emotional testimony, the Sioux Falls Republican saw House Bill 1183, his effort to repeal South Dakota's death penalty, killed in committee on a 7–6 vote. Rep. Hickey has publicly documented his conversion on capital punishment, contending that the death penalty is bad policy on retribution, deterrence, safety, closure, and economics.

Democrat Bernie Hunhoff supported Hickey, saying, "I just don't think you can kill enough people to make [South Dakota] a better place." Three Republicans—Lust, Munsterman, and Conzet—voted with Hunhoff and Dems Parsley and Killer (yes, irony) to move HB 1183 to the House floor, but Democrat Peggy Gibson voted with the slim and uncomfortable majority of Republicans to bury Hickey's repeal.

This defeat comes on the heels of Wednesday's firmer rejection of Rep. Hickey's HB 1255, his proposal to rein in payday lenders. Rep. Hickey thought he'd tempered his anti-usury politics into a compromise palatable to the payday-lending industry. He thought he had a deal with an industry that was just glad to see him back away from a threat to bring a crushing payday-lending interest cap to a public vote. He was wrong; payday lenders lined up to cry out against these reasonable regulations. House State Affairs killed HB 1255 11–2.

Fine, says Rep. Hickey. That's the way the usury industry wants to play? It's back to the ballot:

...Hickey said he’s done negotiating.

“This is a bunch of games. These people expressly told me to put this stuff in the bill, and now they’re here opposing it,” Hickey said. “They should have been in here supporting the bill. But instead they’re going to face a rate cap” [David Montgomery, "S.D. Ballot Fight Vowed on High-Interest Payday Loans," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.02.19].

I won't tease you too hard, Steve, for trusting payday lenders. Just hand me that petition when it comes.

To top it off, Rep. Hickey now has to come home and explain to District 9 voters why he voted against an abortion restriction.

Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea) pitched House Bill 1240 to House Health and Human Services on Thursday. HB 1240 would have outlawed aborting fetuses with Down Syndrome. In the ongoing dishonesty of anti-abortion crusaders, Rep. Latterell asked that we punish the doctors who perform such abortions but not the women who approve and pay for what Latterell and his fellow campaigners blithely call murder and genocide.

Opposition had little to do with Down Syndrome and everything to do with women's rights and abortion in general. NARAL and others testified against HB 1240, saying that it was really an effort to drive another wedge between women and their legal right to bodily autonomy. An emotional Rep. Kathy Tyler, who described herself as a Catholic pro-life Democrat, said she'd never urge anyone to have an abortion, said HB 1240 was unenforceable and would only promote lying (women just wouldn't tell doctors their reason for having an abortion).

Rep. Hickey said he agrees with everything in HB 1240. He said there is nothing more despicable to him than abortion. He said the "callous buzzards" in the legal department at Planned Parenthood were secretly rooting for this bill so they could challenge it in court. He called NARAL and the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families "wicked." He said he worried there was a case that could undermine the whole complex legal battle he and fellow anti-abortion crusaders are waging in South Dakota to overturn Roe v. Wade.

House Health and Human Services split on a motion to pass the bill, 6–6. The committee then banished the bill to the 41st day on an 8–4 vote. Rep. Steve Hickey voted both times against HB 1240.

Hickey has his reasons, but now he must march the campaign trail with a vote against an abortion ban on his scorecard.

South Dakota will continue to kill prisoners. South Dakota will continue to countenance exploitative lending practices. South Dakota will see religious crusaders continue to wage a complex, multi-pronged, and uncompromising campaign against women's rights. It's been a tough week in Pierre for Steve Hickey and for South Dakota.


Abortion makes its first appearance in the Legislative hopper as Rep. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) files House Concurrent Resolution 1005, which exhorts Congress and the President to bestow Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to fetuses:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Urging Congress and the President to secure the blessings of life and liberty for our posterity.

WHEREAS, the purpose of the United States Constitution is "to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;" and

WHEREAS, our children and preborn children are our posterity; and

WHEREAS, our most important blessing is the right to live; and

WHEREAS, the right to life of all innocent persons is God-given and unalienable:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-Ninth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the South Dakota Legislature urges Congress and the President of the United States to immediately provide preborn children their appropriate protections by the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution [2014 HCR 1005].

Rep. Nelson inserts "appropriate" before "protections" to keep me from throwing spitballs at him for defending fetuses from self-incrimination and double jeopardy. But how about a takings clause argument?

Rep. Nelson and his intrusive ilk would exert sovereignty over a woman's body. They would annul her bodily autonomy and oblige her to sacrifice property, liberty, and possibly life to serve a favored entity whom HCR 1005 declares a superior human being. Reps. Nelson, Haggar, Hickey, and friends offer no compensation, no due process, just their smug moral declarations that we love babies while we stigmatize and criminalize their mothers.

Pro-choice South Dakotans will revolt against HCR 1005. Anti-abortion South Dakotans will say pro-choice means pro-abortion.

Here's what being pro-choice means: the only person who gets to decide whether a woman bears a child is the woman. No one else gets to make that decision for her, neither the abusive boyfriend who would hit her to terminate her pregnancy against her will, nor the intrusive legislator who would assign a portion of her flesh Constitutional rights to extend her pregnancy against her will.

No Legislature can assign Constitutional rights to a fetus without taking Constitutional rights away from women. We have to choose. And we must choose not to make a woman's choice for her.

Let's protect women from the unconstitutional predations of Rep. Stace Nelson and other South Dakota Republicans. Reject HCR 1005.


Fascists and Communists are supposed to be a fiercer ideological grudge match than Republicans versus Democrats. But Che Guevara disciple Annette Bosworth is winning the endorsement of Nazi-loving white supremacist Jason R. Baran.

Baran tweets Fox News's Megyn Kelly and the rest of the world Friday encouraging them to check out Annette Bosworth's campaign. "For someone mainstream she doesn't seem bad. Check out her website & give her Facebook page a 'Like'," tweets Baran. Maybe he's one of the folks Bosworth is paying to drive up her Facebook Like count.

Any formal connection beyond Baran's masturbatory Google-imaging would toast Bosworth's campaign faster than her Che shirt, because Baran is a deluded, racist, sexist pig. His Twitter account currently features a cover photo of women in short-skirted uniforms marching in military parade. His Twitter pics just this morning feature photos of comely young women posing before swastikas. "A White woman's place is in the National Socialist Movement!" shouts Baran. Baran fears an America that will "look like Puerto Rico... voodoo and everything." Baran brands Pope Francis a heretic Communist and cites the Federalist Papers as justification for a whites-only America.


We can't blame a candidate for the nearly inevitable fact that some fraction of their supporters, just like some fraction of the society from which they come, will be crazy. But Annette, if Jason starts tweeting you pictures of himself in his swastika'ed brownshirt (and he is "Following" you), don't Tweet back!


Hey, Eve! The Mitchell Daily Republic found that ad you were talking about!

Allen Unruh, Ben Van Deest, and other Sioux Falls area Tea Partiers need you to believe that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a Bolshevik plot. Their ad—so bad that even conservative pundit and prof Jon Schaff calls it "absurd," "dated," and "over the top"—tells Americans that the PPACA will take their privacy away and subject them to government control.

But they aren't describing the PPACA. Their ad more accurately describes the effects of Wisconsin's authoritarian fetal protection law:

When Alicia Beltran was 12 weeks pregnant, she took herself to a health clinic about a mile from her home in Jackson, Wis., for a prenatal checkup. But what started as a routine visit ended with Beltran eventually handcuffed and shackled in government custody – and at the center of a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state’s fetal protection law [Daniella Silva, "Shackled and Pregnant: Wis. Case Challenges 'Fetal Protection' Law," NBC News, 2013.10.24].

Give your information to the doctor, end up in jail: sounds pretty Stalinesque, doesn't it, Allen?

Beltran had been hooked on Percocet. She got herself off the addiction before she went for her prenatal checkup. She gave the physician's assistant an honest account of what she'd done. Two weeks later, the cops hauled this pregnant woman out of her home and off to jail. At her first hearing, the state provided a lawyer for her fetus, but not for her.

At the center of Beltran’s case is a 1997 Wisconsin law that grants courts authority over the fetus of any pregnant woman who “habitually lacks self-control” with drugs and alcohol “to a severe degree” such that there is “substantial risk” to the unborn child. Beltran’s lawyers argue that she was not using any controlled substances at the time of her arrest [Silva, 2013.10.24].

Unruh's ad pretends to be concerned about constitutional rights and liberty. But Unruh has a long history of supporting laws that subject women to government control.

In cases like Beltran’s, “the woman loses pretty much every constitutional right we associate with personhood,” said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and a co-counsel in Beltran’s case.

Experts say that criminal prosecutions of pregnant women, as well as forced drug or psychiatric treatment, have been on the rise in recent years in cases of suspected substance abuse, especially as some states adopt laws granting rights, or “personhood,” to fetuses [Silva, 2013.10.24].

Unruh and his cohort will surely purr that laws like Wisconsin's protect innocent babies. But such laws degrade women and make it harder for women to take care of their unborn children:

For Beltran, the consequences of her case have hit hard. Her family struggled to visit her regularly during her stint at Casa Clare Women’s Facility in Appleton, Wis., a two-hour drive from her home. After being away from work for an extended period, Beltran lost her job in the food service industry, according to her lawyers. She was released earlier this month, but with the case still open, she is still at risk of being taken into custody or ordered into further treatment, Paltrow said [Silva, 2013.10.24].

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not a Marxist plot to take away your Constitutional rights. Fetal protection laws are... if you're a woman.


Senator Dan Lederman (R-16/Dakota Dunes) thinks mixed martial arts is #1:

Chris 'Super Jew" Galinsky, Sen. Dan Lederman, and (separate photo) the ring girls, Sioux City, May 26, 2013. Photos by Dan Lederman.

Chris 'Super Jew" Galinsky, Sen. Dan Lederman, and (separate photo) the ring girls, Sioux City, May 26, 2013. Photos by Dan Lederman.

Yes, we love us a good night of T & A-kicking. And we love voting for legislation that expands opportunities for businesses in which we invest.

Rep. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) is a bit more sensitive to the lure of bloodlust and money. He led a losing fight against the Legislative effort to legitimize our most violent sport last winter. Now he speaks truth to some of the biggest money power in South Dakota that's promoting that commercialized violence: Sanford Health. Terry Vandrovec reports in Monday's paper on the business relationship between South Dakota's largest health care business and MMA league Ultimate Fighting Championship:

The ever-expanding rural provider received approval from the UFC to work with its athletes and does so regularly in terms of training and treating injuries.

Brad Reeves, an orthopedic surgeon at Sanford, was at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when Weidman stunned Anderson Silva to win the UFC middleweight title in July. Reeves consulted with the 29-year-old Weidman in the locker room before the bout and cheered him on just beyond ringside.

The Sanford-UFC relationship began with the local agent Martin bringing some of his 26 MMA clients there, but it has expanded [Terry Vandrovec, "MMA Fights for a Bright Future in South Dakota," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.09.09].

Rep. Rev. Hickey follows with these blessedly impolitic words:

Not everyone is thrilled about the relationship. State representative and Sioux Falls pastor Steve Hickey is the most vocal elected opponent of MMA in South Dakota. “Sanford follows the money, so this is it,” he said. “(Three-billion) dollar industry, fastest growing sport in the world” [Vandrovec, 2013.09.09].

Rep. Rev. Hickey blog-elaborates on Sanford's profit motive for promoting cage fighting:

My friends tell me this kind of thing is political suicide - to smack one of our largest employers in the state, and most generous, one that does a ton of good, etc..  Here's why…

Non-profit Sanford Health is all about multi-million dollar sports venues and high dollar corporate sponsorships. Frankly, in light of that it would be odd for Sanford not to be right in the middle of the mix in bringing high dollar cage fights to town. The possibility of bringing some huge UFC matches here to their venues, televised nationally and via pay-per-view is, how shall I say, exactly what the doctor ordered [Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey, "Sanford and MMA Cage Fighting: Money or Medicine?Voices Carry, 2013.09.10].

Senator Lederman throws his votes and his money at a sport that glorifies violence and treats women as decoration. Representative Hickey's voting record on gals and guns is shaky, but I praise him for having the guts to call out one of the strongest financial forces in the state for putting profit above its mission of health and healing.


Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Rick Weiland wants to focus on the economy, health care, and corporations' anti-democratic domination of politics. He doesn't think social issues will be a big issue in the 2014 election.

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Stace Nelson thinks otherwise. He opens with guns, then throws abortion up as the second big issue on his website, which he has retooled just in time for his official campaign kick-off. Who gets an abortion in Stace Nelson's America? Nobody, except for the one in 10,000 women who can get permission from a judge:

Stace is against abortion in all cases. For the sake of discussion, in the very rare documented rape/incest unwanted pregnancy cases, and if a woman's life was truly in danger due to documented medical complications, an exception could be allowed by court order if sought by a victim. Stace is for legislation outlawing the other 99.99% of the abortions currently conducted [Stace Nelson, U.S. Senate campaign website, downloaded 2013.08.17].

Democrats, take that as a cold bucket of water on our gleeful twitterings about Nelson's entrance into the race. Stace Nelson threatens women's liberty, and no amount of reaching out to liberal blogsbuying his Web services locally, or challenging corporate welfare should paper over that fatal flaw.

Marion Michael Rounds is no better friend of women's rights to control their bodies. But whichever Republican wins the nomination (and it will be Nelson or Rounds, unless you care to argue that Rounds and Nelson will sink each other and fecklessly pablumic Rhoden will default-float à la Rounds-2002), we will face a Republican who will try very hard to distract us from bread-and-butter issues with odious claims that our real problems are black Presidents and slutty women who should not be accorded full citizenship.

Rick Weiland, I don't want to spend 2014 talking social issues, either. But Democrats need a candidate who's ready to jam the culture war that Nelson and the GOP want to fight. You need to tell us that you will defend women's rights against oppressors like Stace Nelson.


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