Anti-abortion law passes, causes controversy

For over 30 years, the historical court case Roe vs. Wade has protected women’s right to abortion. But this was changed after South Dakota passed a new bill last month banning all abortions in the state. South Dakota’s bill directly opposes the Supreme Court ruling that state governments cannot pass anti-abortion laws. It is approximated that it will be several years before the laws in South Dakota can be put in to practice, after the case is taken to the Supreme Court. Recently, President Bush appointed two new Supreme Court justices. This could lead to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. However, not only South Dakota would be affected—at least six other states, including Kentucky, Indiana, and Georgia, have begun writing anti-abortion bills. Kathi DiNicola, director of marketing and communications of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, said that the overturning of Roe vs. Wade could also affect Iowa in the future. “If Roe [vs. Wade] is overturned, abortion issues will go back to each state to be determined. If we have an anti-choice governor in office, we could easily see what is happening in South Dakota happen in Iowa,” she said. “It just underscores how important it is to be an educated and engaged voter.” Opposers of South Dakota’s ban have argued that making abortion illegal will not eliminate abortions; it will only make them more dangerous for women who have them. “One of the major problems with outlawing abortion is people will do it anyway,” senior Joe Wernau said. “This is just sacrificing the health and safety of the women.” DiNicola also pointed out that abortion bans are not likely to lead to the end of abortion. “Women will just stop going to doctors to get them, resorting to dangerous, back-alley methods,” she said. “It will affect women who are poor in disproportionate numbers, as they may not have the resources, such as reliable transportation, child care, or time off work, to travel to another state where the procedure is legal.” However, for the supporters of South Dakota’s bill, banning abortion seems to be the only moral option. “As far as I’m concerned, killing a baby before it is born is no different than killing it 20 years later,” senior Michael Stoeker said. “There’s always something to do besides killing.” Yet, many politicians and regular citizens believe that whether or not abortion is the right option, South Dakota’s abortion laws do not respect the rights of women, nor do they lead to a better outcome. “If politicians in South Dakota truly cared about reducing the number of abortions, they would work with Planned Parenthood to increase access to contraception and medically accurate sex education,” DiNicola said. “Additionally, polls consistently show the majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose. [South Dakota’s] legislation is widely out of step with mainstream America; the ban put politics above the health and safety of women.” Junior Joey Dobson expressed similar views. “We need to make sure that every living person is valued, rather than imposing situations that are harmful and destructive,” she said. “The practice of abortion helps ensure that every child is wanted and cared for.” While the issue of abortion will undoubtedly be decided in the future by politicians, freshman Kevin Arritt pointed out that the debate goes beyond politics. “The idea of when a life begins is such a personal thing,” he said. “Each person has his own morals; no law can say ‘this is life.’”