South Dakota’s 2012 Legislative Session: Another One Just Like the Last One


This week will mark the beginning of the 2012 legislative sessions for many states across the nation, particularly in the Midwest.  Many of these states have part-time legislatures, which only meet for a few months of the year. Most of these states are coping with strained economies and restricted budgets.

A reasonable expectation for 2012 would be that these legislative bodies would seek to use frugality as their policy-making guide during tough times.  Seeking the most bang for their taxpayer buck, leading them toward wise budgetary decision-making, shoring up essential public services and providing their respective citizenries with improved quality of living.  A year to set aside ideological political divides and begin focusing on what really matters for their respective states. 

If South Dakota provides us with any indication, it looks like 2012 will most likely be a sad repeat of 2011.  Just one state among many that contributed to the drastic and unprecedented increase in abortion provisions attempted and enacted at the state level during 2011.  Another state clamoring for the chance to regulate, harass and restrict abortion out of extinction within its borders.   

There are five states with only one abortion clinic within their borders.  South Dakota is one of those five states.  South Dakota is also in the midst of litigation, outspending my own home state of Kansas.  In fact, they anticipate spending $750,000 in the first half of 2012.   Their Governor Daugaard has even requested $1 million for an “Extraordinary Litigation Fund” to cover court costs related to fighting abortion laws passed by a South Dakota legislature based upon scientifically bogus factoids. 

Scientifically bogus factoids like those included state-mandated information materials that tell women who seek abortions that suicidal tendencies are a “risk factor” of their procedure.  So, the state of South Dakota is going to follow up this wise use of taxpayer cash by throwing more money at scientifically bogus factoids like the myth of “fetal pain.” 

South Dakota’s fiscal picture looks brighter that it did last session, so what better way to spend all of that fat cash than on the ideological pursuit to shut down one abortion clinic within 77,121 square miles?  As Kate Sheppard points out at the end of her piece on the South Dakota spending, this is out of line with the “will of the people” who have twice voted down abortion bans at their polls. 

One South Dakota legislator stated,  “I would encourage a group that’s been putting up legislation like that – and has done some great legislation – to maybe take a year and regroup.”

Rest assured, there will be no “re-grouping” for the anti-choice zealots intent upon eliminating abortion in South Dakota.  There is only the “ramrodding” of their abortion access eliminating agenda through their state government, representing the will of the radical right in spite of the will of the majority. Incremental legislation is their end game.  Its not as sexy or eye catching as personhood amendments, but it achieves the desired result…anti-choice victory, one red state at a time. 

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