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Monday, October 27, 2008

Abortion: Legitimate or a grave injustice?

By Gordon Garnos

AT ISSUE: Once again the abortion or anti-abortion issue has surfaced in South Dakota. This time Initiated Measure 11 would prohibit abortions except in cases where the mother's life or health is a substantial or irreversible risk and in cases of reported rape or incest. In other words, those sponsoring the proposal have sweetened the pie a bit from the last time it was introduced by adding "reported rape and incest" to the exceptions.

NEVER IN MY LONG history of observing the South Dakota political scene has there been proposed legislation with more adulation and denunciation from the voting public than the abortion, or should I say anti-abortion, issue.

There is no question about the poignancy of the television commercial about the parents who had to sacrifice the unborn life of one twin to save the life of the other. The message was that if the proposed bill was in effect, they would not have been able to have this choice.

Still, arguments abound about their rights to make this decision. Herein lies the problem. Would such an abortion be legitimate or would it be a grave injustice? If so, to whom? Would the proposed law provide enough exemption to cover such possibilities that are needed?

POIGNANT OR NOT, any legislation must at least attempt to cover such exceptions as mentioned above. Without them, the proposed law would be considered by many to be incomplete. If "11" passes the electorate, I would hope the exemptions would be generally broad enough to cover the above example.

Writing for the opponents of "11," Dr. Marvin Buehner of Rapid City, wrote, "This law requires government to interfere in the most difficult personal decisions that women and families make... Put simply, banning abortions has serious consequences, and Measure II is a poorly crafted law... This complex, personal decision should be between a woman, her family, her doctor and God. But this law will put the ultimate decision in the hands of government in virtually every instance."

But, according to Dr. Pamela Schmagel also of Rapid City, a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, Initiated Measure 11 "contains provisions that would deter fraudulent claims, and in the case of rape and incest, it helps insure that those who commit such crimes can be prosecuted and will be prevented from hurting women in the future."

THIS ARGUMENT by Dr. Schmagel, in my opinion, trumps the fear of government intervention.

By adding to the exemptions of reported rape or incest, it is a good proposal that deserves a "Yes" vote next week at the ballot box. This is even though it probably will be challenged in court because of the Roe vs.Wade case in the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Jan. 22, 1973, making abortions legal in this country.

NOW, IN REVIEW:
Constitutional Amendment G should be a "Yes" vote because South Dakota needs to get its legislative travel pay up to date.

Constitutional Amendment H should be a "Yes" vote because it is a housekeeping proposal relating to corporation law in South Dakota.

Constitutional Amendment I will extend the number of days from a 35-day legislative session to 40 days. With the increased work load of the Legislature this should be a "Yes" vote.

Constitutional Amendment J attempts to eliminate term limits for just our legislators. A vote "No" is definitely in order to leave the Constitution as it is. This is not the time to eliminate term limits.

Initiated Measure 9 would outlaw the short sale of stocks in South Dakota. While this proposal is confusing to one who does not dabble in the purchasing of stocks, we must vote "No" as requested by the director of the South Dakota Division of Securities.

Initiated Measure 10 would keep local governments from spending public funds (taxpayer dollars) for campaigning or lobbying. More than 60 South Dakota organizations oppose "10." It is a bad proposed law and doesn't deserve to see the light of day. Therefore, it's a "No" vote here.

TO MY READERS: I hope I have been able to clarify both the proposed amendments and initiatives. On voting day it still is every South Dakota voter's privilege to exercise their right to vote their choice. Please be sure to vote....

Gordon Garnos was long-time editor of the Watertown Public Opinion and recently retired after 39 years with that newspaper. Garnos, a lifelong resident of South Dakota except for his military service in the U.S. Air Force, was born and raised in Presho.


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