Last updated on 2013.02.14
Here's an angle of House Bill 1217 that escaped my attention until today. SDPB's Vicky Wicks interviewed Dr. Michael Fenner, a constitutional law expert at Creighton University, on the ramifications of the abortion restrictions awaiting Governor Dennis Daugaard's signature. Dr. Fenner pointed out that while House Bill 1217 requires women to obtain counseling from an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center, it does not require the CPC to schedule that counseling session in a timely fashion.
Now suppose you devoutly oppose abortion. You think it is the murder of a child. You want desperately to stop every abortion and save every baby. You are willing to use any legal means available—protest, persuasion, prayer—to save those babies.
And now the state says that for a woman to get an abortion, she must first certify that she has had a conversation with you. She has to wait 72 hours from her first meeting with her doctor, but once she can certify in writing that she's consulted with you, she can kill that baby.
Nothing in the statute requires you to schedule that consultation within the 72-hour waiting period. The woman calls your CPC, and you can say, "Oh, sorry, we're all booked up. We can't see you until next week." You can book the woman for a week from Thursday, maybe later. You can bring her in, have your staff hand her some literature, get some CPC volunteers to pray conspicuously in the waiting room or just look at the woman with deep Christian pity, but then have an assistant announce, "Oh! Sorry, the counselor we scheduled can't make it in today. Maybe it's a sign from our baby-loving Lord Jesus. Can we reschedule your counseling for next week?"
And so on, and so on, until it's too late to have the abortion. Mission accomplished.
Yes, this scenario assumes that abortion foes are sneaky, deceptive devils. But we write laws with the assumption that sneaky, deceptive devils will take advantage of loopholes and poorly crafted laws... just as abortion foes have crafted HB 1217 under the assumption that women are emotional, irrational, irresponsible creatures who must be forced to listen to lectures on why what they are doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. If Rep. Roger Hunt and Sen. Jason Frerichs can make that negative assumption about every woman in South Dakota, I can make a similarly negative assumption about the anti-abortion CPC staffers who are highly motivated to carry out their moral agenda... and whose power to interfere with a woman's constitutional right to obtain an abortion is wholly unchecked by HB 1217.
That kind of absolute power isn't just unconstitutional; it's unconscionable.
Governor Daugaard, do you really want to grant such unrestrained power to uncertified counselors... or to anybody? Keep thinking, Governor... the right answer is veto.