Stuart Hughes: Bill pushes state mandated morality


Tuesday, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on abortion legislation passed in 2005 and affirmed our state’s position at the helm of the nation’s abortion debate.

Roughly every five years major abortion legislation is taken up by the courts or the people and this time around, the fight was over language labeled “informed consent.”

These are materials that now will be provided to women who are considering ending their pregnancy. The intent is to ensure women are free from coercion while making such an important decision, but the language of the bill leaves many wondering if one form of coercion isn’t simply replacing another.

There are two especially significant clauses in the language of South Dakota’s informed consent bill. The first requires that women must be informed that the risk of suicide and suicidal thought is slightly higher in women who procure an abortion than women who carry a pregnancy to term. The difference between the two is miniscule, standing at fewer than 30 per 100,000 women. But while the difference in mental health statistics is small, it is there. Few take umbrage to this clause.

The second clause is the language mandating that doctors must provide women with information stating abortion is murder. This is where I take pause. Women must now be told that if they procure an abortion they will “Terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being in a scientific sense.”

Whether or not a person agrees with the morality of abortion, it is a legal action. Women still have a legal right that is recognized in every state to make decisions freely, but that freedom is eroding fast. More and more states are passing informed consent laws with South Dakota’s just being the latest. These bills attack a woman’s moral right to an abortion and they replace individual morality with state mandated morality. Only in today’s backwards political scene would the same party decry the ills of regulation in business while actively promoting it elsewhere. While abortion is legal, a woman should have the right to exercise her conscience free from coercion.

Proponents of this bill would have it said that the affirmation is a victory for women, but that doesn’t hold up. In reality, this bill is hollow and creates a grave contradiction. If an abortion terminates a “whole, separate, unique, living human being,” why is this not murder? Has the state legalized murder? It seems the definition of murder and the language of this bill have much in common. But the bill hasn’t legalized murder. What it has done is provided for state sponsored morality and coercion of women as dictated by our legislature. If this bill would come with attached funding for women who desire to carry pregnancy to term, it would not be so disappointing. But the same radicals who promote this funding seek to eliminate help to low income women who give birth.

What this bill fails to recognize, but addresses anyways, is that we are not guaranteed freedom from private sector moral coercion, but we are guaranteed, in essence, the right to exercise our freedoms free from government coercion. Planned Parenthood has every First Amendment right, as a private entity, to coerce and persuade the population but the government does not enjoy that right. If someone does not like the message of Planned Parenthood, they can simply turn off the TV, put down the magazine or unfriend that friend on facebook. One cannot simply ignore a government mandate.

While we are legally coerced every day by TV advertising, magazines and even our friends, neighbors and colleagues, nowhere should it be acceptable for the government to step outside its role as a non-religious, impartial entity and dictate morality and the desires of religious parties.

-Stuart Hughes-

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