Americans United Concerned About Separation of Church And State In South Dakota Abortion Legislation


Those who are planning the legal strategy for blocking South Dakota’s new mandatory waiting period and counseling law have been focusing a great deal of their effort on both the length of the waiting period, which is three times as long as any other state, and the fact that the pregnancy centers in question will be providing misleading and factually inaccurate medical information in an attempt to coerce women out of their decisions to abort.

But even more worrisome is the fact that the centers in question often proselytize to the women who enter the building, meaning the state is in essence mandating a religious intervention for these women.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sees this as a clearly unconstitutional measure, and explains in great detail why it cannot stand.

This is a paternalistic law designed to force women (many of whom are poor and already in a difficult position) to listen to sermonettes delivered by religious extremists who oppose abortion.

Think about that for a minute the next time someone tells you that the “culture wars” are over or that the Religious Right’s power is on the wane. Women in South Dakota must now meet with fundamentalist religious zealots before they can access a legal medical procedure. (In the spirit of fair play, perhaps South Dakota lawmakers should pass a law requiring men seeking vasectomies to meet first with a Catholic priest who patiently lectures them on every potential life they are denying.)

There has been some talk about challenging this provision of South Dakota’s law in court. I hope that happens. I also hope it is struck down as a violation of the fundamental right of conscience.

Is an “amen” appropriate here?

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