I had no idea that Gordon Howie would post our Liberty Today conversation about personhood and abortion the same day that I would post about Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's veto of a 72-hour abortion waiting period. But there it is! Kismet!

Notice that Howie—who is running for Senate, by the way—says that life begins before conception. By Howie's thinking, it's not just abortion doctors committing murder; you kids with your condoms are thwarting life and the will of God! Even abstainers are standing against the heavenly tide of LIFE!

Post-Hobby Lobby, Howie's thinking should make us nervous. If religious beliefs about personhood can allow corporations to discriminate against women in health insurance policies, they may allow corporations to discriminate against childless employees who by their use of condoms, their abstinence, or their dorky inability to strike up a sparkling conversation at TeeZer's are ending life that exists in God's mind but not some unplumbed womb.

Contending that life begins before conception would seem to create a sexual imperative that we do it early and do it often. That should make us really nervous: int he Howie-ocracy, government might do far worse than force you to wait 72 hours plus a weekend to get an abortion. It might draft you for insemination in service of the lives God has conceived for you to create.


Julie Rovner follows up on a report she did for NPR in 2012 noting that Hobby Lobby and other corporations who want to deny women coverage for birth control are still discriminating on the basis of sex and pregnancy under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as determined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2000. Furthermore, 28 states require insurers to cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices; 20 of those states offer religious exemptions, just as the Affordable Care Act did before yesterday's Hobby Lobby ruling, but few if any go as far as saying private corporations can hold religious beliefs and get out of covering contraception.

South Dakota has no such independent contraceptive requirement for insurance policies. Rep. Joni Cutler tried to create one with House Bill 1156 in 2010, but the bill did not pass the House. Senator Ed Olson offered a more general defense of contraception in 2008 with Senate Bill 164:

...It is the public policy of this state that the interest in freedom from unreasonable government intrusions into the private lives of citizens, and specifically the right of consenting individuals to obtain and use safe and effective methods of contraception without interference by governmental entities, shall be safeguarded and that the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to recognize and protect these rights [2008 SB 164, Section 2(3)].

Senator Olson's bill also would have clarified that contraception is not governed by South Dakota's abortion statutes, including the statute that allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions if they think those prescriptions will be used for abortions... the same false pretext under which Hobby Lobby won its battle in the war on women before the Supreme Court yesterday.

Worth noting: both Olson and Cutler are Republicans. They are no longer in the Legislature, but they demonstrate that when South Dakota Democrats blast the Hobby Lobby ruling and demand that health care decisions be made by women and their doctors, not their bosses, they can find a few allies and win a few votes across the aisle.


The Supreme Court ruled this morning that corporations can believe in God. I'm looking for the Scripture that says, "Blessed are the corporations...."

The Supreme Court thus ruled that Hobby Lobby and other pious corporations don't have to follow the law that requires employer health insurance policies to include contraception.

Sarah Stoesz of Planned Parenthood wrote in March that contraception isn't a religious issue; it's basic health care:

Since birth control became legal and widely available, women’s health has improved dramatically; the infant death rate has plummeted; and women have been able to invest in their education and careers. Not to mention that increasing access to birth control significantly reduces unintended pregnancy, which in turn reduces the abortion rate [Sarah Stoesz, "Birth Control Is Not a Religious Issue; It Is a Basic Health-Care Issue," MinnPost, 2014.03.25].

Stoesz saw coming this dire precedent: allow corporations to refuse to pay for emergency contraceptives and birth control pills because of their religious objections, and you open the door for corporations who practice Christian Science to refuse to pay for insurance for chemotherapy or antibiotics, for Jehovite corporations to refuse to cover blood transfusions (and maybe even provide legal cover for Jehovites to reassert their opposition to vaccines), and for some fundamentalist corporations to decline to cover any medical treatment other than prayer.

All of this assumes, of course, that a corporation, a legal fiction, a paper construct, can hold religious beliefs, an absurd position, insulting to every religion, that our Supreme Court has now posited as true.


My tabs are like tribbles; time to clear the queue!

Teen pregnancy and abortion rates are at all-time lows in the U.S. The Guttmacher Institute reports that from 2008 to 2010, teen pregnancy and abortion rates declined in every state and among whites, blacks, and Hispanics. Guttmacher also reports that "increasing proportions of 18–19-year-olds reported having ever had sex, yet fewer of them became pregnant. The likely reason is improved contraceptive use and use of more effective methods."

Let's really reach: maybe fewer teen pregnancies means those young people can get educated, get better jobs, and earn more money, which would explain at least some of the 2.3% increase in real personal income, the bang we get or our bucks, nationwide in 2012. But check out this data that Larry Kurtz showed me: real personal income in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City metro areas dropped in 2012. With Daugaardonomics in full swing, pocketbook power dropped about $500 in Rapid and about $1,000 in Sioux Falls. South Dakotans were still better off at the end of 2012 than we were under the Rounds Administration, but we won't be if the 2012 drop becomes a trend.

South Dakota is the best state in which to retire, says Bankrate.com. These bean counters, who may or may not have ever spent six months shoveling the sidewalk and plugging in the car each night, say our low taxes, low crime, and great health care make up for the weather. Plus they say Aberdeen offers lots to do.

I plan to retire in South Dakota for reasons entirely separate from Bankrate's; friend of the blog Stan Gibilisco questions the criteria of the Bankrate review and the definition of retirement. He also reminds us that retirees will spend a lot less on utilities in Hawaii:

(Filming with an iPad affixed to a window with Gorilla Tape?! Ah, resourcefulness!)


A Bosworthy exercise in logical syllogism:

  1. Fake Senate candidate Annette Bosworth paid Facebook 19 disbursements totaling $1,635.40 in 2013 Q4.
  2. Facebook is run by Mark Zuckerberg.
  3. Zuckerberg donated 18 million shares of Facebook stock in 2013 to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. That stock is worth $992 million.
  4. SVCF gives money to Planned Parenthood.
  5. SVCF has Planned Parenthood members among its directors and index advisors.
  6. Planned Parenthood, according to Bosworth supporters, murders babies and manipulates women.
  7. Ergo, Annette Bosworth murders babies and manipulates women.

But seriously, candidates vying for the title of true conservative alternative to Marion Michael Rounds must now boycott Faceboo, right?


I told you that Senate Bills 101 and 112, Senator Jeff Monroe's silly proposals to let teachers spout off whatever random commentary they wish in their classrooms (or anyone else's) about fetuses and creationism, were poorly written legislation.

Even Senator Monroe himself agrees. On Thursday, he put his legislative tail between his legs and withdrew SB 101 and SB 112. From KCCR (which doesn't archive stories for permanent linkage, dang it!):

Saying there was too much confusion about the intent of the legislation, state Senator Jeff Monroe of Pierre Thursday withdrew bills dealing with the instruction of intelligent design and allowing teachers to provide instruction on "personhood before birth."

Both bills were withdrawn Thursday morning before being heard by the Senate Education Committee ["Monroe Pulls Bills on Intelligent Design, Personhood," KCCR Radio, 2014.02.06].

Chet Brokaw get a little more detail from Senator Monroe admitting that the Madville Times was right:

The measure's main sponsor, Sen. Jeff Monroe, R- Pierre, said he had to scrap the bill because it was badly written but didn't elaborate. He said supporters from across the nation have said there are far better ways to address the issue, but he declined to say what he might do in the future.

"I don't mind a good fight, but the amount of good that would have come from the bill would have been outweighed by all the misconceptions people have had," Monroe said. "I didn't want to put the people in that committee in a tight sport. Some agreed with the bill, but they would have had to vote against it, based on the fact it was written poorly" [Chet Brokaw, "South Dakota Bill Allowing Teachers to Discuss Intelligent Design Killed at Sponsor's Request," AP, 2014.02.06].

Senator Monroe tells KCCR that he talked to "think tanks" around the country. It doesn't take a think tank to recognize a bad idea, Senator.

Senator Monroe tells KCCR he won't bring these topics up again in this year's session, but he will look for other forums in which to promote his anti-woman, anti-science agenda. Looks like this blog will stay in business for quiet some time....


The anti-abortionist fervor to fight their fetus crusade on every battlefield leads to really bad legislation. Consider Senate Bill 101, an effort by Senator Jeff Monroe (R-24/Pierre) to wedge more of the culture war into our schools:

No school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in a public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on personhood before birth or other related topics.

Senator Monroe apparently was so busy thinking, "Love babies! Take over the schools!" that he didn't pay attention to the meaning of the words in his bill. An objective and literal reading of SB 101 opens this possibility:

A high school French teacher walks into his classroom. He begins a lesson on French food. Oo la la, les crêpes, le croque-monsiuer.... Suddenly he stops, jumps on a desk, and shouts, "Students! Fetuses are not people! They are not citizens under the Constitution! The only person in a position to decide whether a pregnancy should continue and whether a fetus should be allowed to be born and become a person is the woman who is pregnant!" All of those statements constitute instruction on personhood before birth.

But the French teacher reads SB 101 closely. (French teachers are smart like that.) He recognizes that sex is a precondition to fetuses and birth. Sex is thus a related topic under SB 101. The French teacher thus begins to converse with the students about their sexual activity and discusses the pros and cons of various forms of birth control so they can avoid having to confront the quandary of embryonic personhood.

The principal walks in and is aghast. "You can't talk about fetuses!" the principal shouts. "You're supposed to be teaching French! Stop that!"

"Mais non!" tuts the French teacher, handing the principal his copy of SB 101. "You cannot prohibit a teacher, any teacher, from teaching such things."

The principal remembers SB 101, sighs, and hurries away to a meeting on Common Core data-mining and mind control, leaving the French teacher to continue the conversation with a group of surprised but unusually attentive students.

Senator Monroe, thank you. Please do pass this bill, exactly as written. I can't wait to get back to teaching in 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.


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