Roundup: South Dakota’s Proposed Abortion Ban, Women Voters Key

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Roundup: South Dakota’s Proposed Abortion Ban, Women Voters Key

Brady Swenson

South Dakota readies again for abortion fight; Illinois AG Lisa Madigan strongly opposes HHS regulation; More calls for better sex education; Women voters will make or break election; WaPo features heart-wrenching story of former sex slave Somaly Mam.

South Dakota Readies Again for Abortion Fight

The Sunday edition of The Washington Post takes a close look at the proposed abortion ban on the ballot in South Dakota this November.  Voters rejected a more restrictive ban in 2006. The 2008 version of the ban includes strict exceptions in the cases of rape or incest or to
protect the life or health of the woman.  South Dakota has only one abortion clinic to which doctors are flown in once per week from Minnesota because no doctors in South Dakota are willing to perform abortions.  Indeed, the article says that "South Dakota already may be the most difficult state in which to access abortion:"

The legislature passed a law requiring doctors to tell women that an
abortion would "terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living
human being." Each woman must be told that abortion increases the risk
of "suicide ideation and suicide," a medically disputed assertion, and
must be offered the chance to view a sonogram. A 24-hour waiting period
is required.

If the proposal passes the law could be used to bring a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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Illinois Attorney General Speaks Out Strongly Against Looming HHS Regulation

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan spoke out strongly against a proposed strengthening of the "conscience clause" for medical practitioners.  The last day of the public commenting period for the proposed regulations is this Wednesday, September 25th.  Madigan says:

… the proposed HHS rule, which would cost more than $44
million to implement, would allow each health-care practitioner to
broadly define abortion according to personal beliefs. It would permit
them to opt out of providing reproductive care services, including many
common forms of birth control such as intra-uterine devices and Plan B
emergency contraception, if it conflicts with their personal beliefs.

She said the proposal also conflicts with several Illinois laws that
require insurers to cover approved contraceptive drugs and devices;
require emergency room personnel to provide emergency contraceptive
services to victims of sexual assault; and require pharmacies to fill
prescriptions for contraception.

The Governor of Illionois also opposes the regualtion:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich also wrote HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt on Friday opposing the rule.

“This proposed rule is not about providers’ consciences, it is about
restricting access to health care to those in need,” Blagojevich wrote.

Paul Gaynor, chief of the public interest division in the attorney
general’s office, said the rule would “interfere with women’s access to
health care in Illinois and across the country.”

“It appears to be a politically motivated definition of abortion that is subjective based on personal beliefs,” he said.


More Calls for Better Sex Education

Articles from Oklahoma and Indiana lamenting the state of sex education in the U.S. come on the heels of study released last week showing, yet again, that abstinence only programs simply fails to help teens live healthy lives:

A report released last week by the National Sexuality Resource
Center includes a substantial peer review of the nation’s various sex
education programs for adolescents. Among the findings:

"Most abstinence programs did not delay initiation of sex, and
only 3 of 9 had any significant positive effects on any sexual
behavior. In contrast, about two thirds of comprehensive programs
showed strong evidence that they positively affected young people’s
sexual behavior, including both delaying initiation of sex and
increasing condom and contraceptive use among youth.”

IU’s Reece points to
several surveys of Indiana parents over the years that show most of
them “want their kids to be prepared for sexuality when it happens.”
Such preparation should include abstinence, but also all relevant
elements of human sexual health, including body image and understanding
how to negotiate relationships.

"Recent research in this area
shows that few students are receiving critical sexuality information in
public schools, even about the most basic topics like reproductive
anatomy,” Reece said. 

Barack Obama supports comprehensive sex education while John McCain has stated support for continuing federal funding of abstinence-only programs. 


Women’s Voices. Women Vote.

Thanks to Jill at Feministe for pointing us to a project that Feministe is working on this election season aimed at getting women out to vote.  The "Women’s Voices. Women Vote." website has state-by-state voter registration information and a very helpful research page


Speaking of Women Voters…

There has been a lot of thinking and writing on the impact women will have on this election and how Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are challenging ideas of feminism and what it means to support women from a political perspective.  Barack Obama and John McCain are wisely spending a good amount of time trying to figure out how to talk to women voters. The latest issue of TIME Magazine called "maxed-out moms" the battleground voting bloc this year.  Anne Ream, of the Chicago Tribune, wrote yesterday about "fault lines" in feminism that have been exposed during this election cycle and argues in favor of a more holistic, "bigger picture," kind of feminism.  Finally, UK newspaper The Independent has a long look at how women in the media are also having a greater impact than ever this election season.  


Of Human Bondage

Today’s Washington Post features the story of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who escaped sex slavery when she was 21 and has been working tirelessly to bring attention to its gruesome reality.  Mam is asking with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to support legislation to bolster existing anti-trafficking laws.  

About 2 million people a year are trapped in sexual bondage or labor
servitude as a result of trafficking, including thousands in the United
States, according to the State Department.

After visiting congressional offices and addressing the Congressional
Human Rights Caucus, Mam planned to travel across the country promoting
her autobiography, "The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a
Cambodian Heroine," and to raise money for her foundation, the Somaly Mam Foundation.