South Dakota just passed a new pro-life law which does three things:
- The abortion doctors must first meet the women coming in for abortions, and ensure that they are not being coerced into it
- Requires a three-day waiting period between the first consultation with the abortion doctor and the actual abortion.
- Requires consultation with a pregnancy help center.
I think all three of this measures should be applauded, whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice. Here’s why.
1. Requiring Abortion Doctors to Meet the Women First
There are countless women who have come forward and said that they were coerced into abortions they regretted by domineering or abusive boyfriends, husbands, parents, pimps, and even their rapists. The actions of groups like Live Action have exposed the truth of this, with footage of Planned Parenthood “counselors” offering advice to people claiming to be sex traffickers, on how to avoid getting caught. If you’re pro-choice, as opposed to pro-abortion, the notion that women are being coerced into something which isn’t their free choice (and which they’ll likely regret later, as a result) is a no-brainer.
Right now, the state’s major abortion provider is a single Planned Parenthood clinic which isn’t reporting cases of coercion. This law has the potential to change that. First, if abortion doctors obey the law here, it could really provide a way to crack down on those who abuse and control women like property. Second, if they don’t comply with it, and intentionally turn a blind eye towards women being abused (and worse, facilitate that abuse by performing the abortion), they’ve opened themselves up for stricter regulation, and probably created a basis upon which they can be sued by the women they’ve harmed. Either way, the law will make those complicit in sex trafficking, rape, and domestic abuse accountable.
Of course, it also humanizes the abortion procedure quite a bit more. In general, the field of medicine has become too cold and “industrial,” and abortion has been no exception (in fact, it’s been one of the worst offenders in this regard). So it’s hard to see how this requirement is anything but good for women.
2. The Three-Day Waiting Period
Lliberal anti-gun advocates quite reasonably note that by instituting a few-day waiting period, you help ensure that people aren’t just buying a gun on impulse, or in a fit of anger. Likewise, this abortion waiting period ensures that decisions aren’t rashly made that will haunt the woman for life.
Regardless of whether you acknowledge abortion as ending a human life or not, the decision to abort is still a huge and irreversible decision. And a number of women have said that they regret this decision. In the balance are a lot of pregnant women, often in emotionally unstable relationships, unsure of what the future holds if they do give birth. Planned Parenthood’s own name is a nod to the fact that many of the women who undergo abortions weren’t planning on getting pregnant in the first place. In other words, there’s a real risk (supported by lots of women’s testimonies) that the decision to abort will be chosen in the heat of the moment.
The sort of situation we’re talking about is obvious: on Monday, the woman announces to her boyfriend that she’s pregnant, and he reacts terribly and is unsupportive. Fearing she can’t raise the baby alone, the woman goes in for an abortion right away. Within a day or two, maybe things have changed. He’s taken ownership of the fact he got her pregnant, or she’s decided she can do this without him, or with the help of her family, etc. A three-day waiting period is totally sensible for these sorts of situations.
3. Pregnancy Center Consultations
Much of the to-do has been about the fact that women who elect to abort have to first have a pregnancy center consultation. I’ve already seen allegations that it’s “forced speech,” since women are being forced to attend if they want to have abortions. It’s not forced speech, any more than California’s mandatory sexual harassment seminars for employees of all large corporations are forced speech. The law contains all sorts of requirements like this. Another obvious example: pharmaceutical companies are forced to list the potential side effects of their drugs in drug ads. Since there’s no way of getting Planned Parenthood to honestly explain the potential side effects, South Dakota has opted for the next-best choice: having those who don’t have a financial interest in abortion provide that information.
Pregnancy centers often provide an enormous assistance in providing sonograms. Hearing competing medical claims from pro-life and pro-choice groups is one thing; seeing your baby on a sonogram is something quite different. In many cases, women who see the sonogram no longer want abortions. Some still do, and opt for abortions with more information than they had before. So as with the other two portions of the law, this provision actually strengthens the ability of a pregnant woman to freely and rationally make an important and life-changing decision.
Being pro-choice isn’t the same as being pro-impulsive decision, and a true choice is an educated and rational one. This law helps to ensure that women who choose abortion do so with an awareness of the consequences, with time to decide if an abortion is what they really want, and without the cloud of coercion hovering over them. So the proponents of the bill are both pro-life and pro-choice. They want women to freely choose life.
On the other hand is an institution that’s pro-abortion, seeking to quash a woman’s free choice in favor of the bottom line. That sounds conspiratorial, but it’s not. As the string of exposés established, Planned Parenthood will regularly perform abortions even on women who aren’t truly willing participants. When forced to choose between abortion and women, Planned Parenthood chooses abortion.
What’s worth remembering is why it is that institutionally, Planned Parenthood is pro-abortion, not choice. It’s a massive organization, whose 2008-2009 budget was over a billion dollars. A huge amount of that comes from abortions. Forget that it’s abortion that we’re talking about for a moment, and it’s obvious what’s going on here. They sell a product, and they don’t want to let potential customers (pregnant women) know about the negatives of that product, or the alternatives to the product.
South Dakota is doing for abortion what the FDA does for candy. And regardless of your views on abortion, it seems only sane that the decision to undergo an abortion be at least as informed as the decision to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup.