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Monday, October 27, 2008

Dist. 32 Independent Candidate on Initiated Measure 11

Voters in South Dakota Legislative District 32 will soon decide who will represent them in the state senate.

This year, they have three choices: incumbent Democrat Tom Katus, Republican Stan Adelstein, and Independent Elli Schwiesow.

The entrance of Schwiesow in the race as an Independent is interesting because she is a life-long Republican who has held a number of official state and local Republican Party positions.

Schwiesow ran against incumbent Adelstein in the 2006 primary and defeated him. However, Adelstein then threw his considerable wealth and support behind Democrat Katus; Katus subsequently won the 2006 general election.

Rather than spend a large sum of money to defeat Adelstein again in the 2008 primary, and be forced to spend another large sum of money to defeat Katus--presumably with Adelstein's help again--in the general election, Schwiesow chose instead to wait until the general election was over and enter the race as an Independent.

Many have argued that, even as an Independent, Schwiesow represents the values of the Republican Party better than Adelstein. After all, the Republican Party has a pro-life and pro-marriage plank, yet in 2006 Adelstein fought strongly against a pro-life measure and a marriage protection amendment.

Yet because of Schwiesow's strong support of the 2006 pro-life Referred Law 6, her opponents succeeded in convincing the voters she was a "single-issue candidate."

Dakota Voice has featured a series of articles from an interview with Schwiesow on several important issues. They have included taxes, Second Amendment rights, universal preschool, energy, and Native American issues.

This week, Schwiesow discusses abortion and the new pro-life measure, Initiated Measure 11.

"I support restrictions on abortion," Schwiesow told me recently. She believes the issue of life is of critical importance, and is something as fundamental as the principles which founded our country.

Schwiesow says, "The Declaration of Independence is generally regarded as the founding document of this nation and it declares for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It boils down to how we define 'life.'"

Informed consent laws are one way pro-life people have sought to reduce abortions. South Dakota passed an informed consent law in 2005 which requires abortionists to inform women of the consequences of an abortion, and that it ends a human life. That law was blocked by a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood, but this summer the injunction on enforcement was lifted by the South Dakota courts.

Judge Raymond W. Gruender indicated in the decision that South Dakota's informed consent law makes some very valid points:

Planned Parenthood presented no evidence to oppose the common understanding that a fetus is a living organism while in the womb, the court majority said.

"The State's evidence suggests that the biological sense in which the embryo or fetus is whole, separate, unique and living should be clear in context to a physician," Judge Raymond W. Gruender wrote for the majority.

Schwiesow says she supports such laws.

"It is interesting that present day medical ethics require you be told of the nature of your illness, the possible treatments for that illness and the potential complications of any particular course of action in treating that illness," said Schwiesow. "Not so with abortion. It seems that anyone requesting an abortion should be denied the very same information that is required for any other medical procedure."

She says that while she would prefer a measure which recognize the value of all human life, she supports Initiated Measure 11, even though it has exceptions for rape, incest, the health of the mother and the life of the mother.

Of the exceptions, Schwiesow says, "I'm okay with them.I would vote for any measure which lessened the number of abortions occurring. Dr. Donald Oliver [Rapid City pediatrician] said that if a building was burning and it was filled with people, would you not save as many as you could, or would you say 'If I can't save them all, I won't save any.' I thought about that for a long time because the exceptions were a smoke screen in 2006."

On whether Initiated Measure 11 would pass where Referred Law 6 did not, she said, "It was phenomenal that South Dakota had 44% standing on 'no exceptions,' or more than one in three. I'm confident this one will pass because it now has the exceptions that many people feel should be there. I'm still concerned about the babies conceived in rape, or babies that doctors thought wouldn't live, yet later we found out they were perfectly healthy."

Even though IM 11 has exceptions, the pro-abortion campaign now objects that the exceptions are "too strict" and "burdensome" to the woman who wants to abort her child. Schwiesown disagrees.

"I don't think the requirements for the exceptions in IM11 are too strict," she said. "Rape is an evil, evil crime and when something like this happens, law enforcement needs to be involved. The perpetrator needs to be arrested, and that involves coming forward, seeking police protection, emergency room treatment. Without these requirements, anyone could just say 'I was raped' and get an abortion with no proof that a crime had actually occurred. Especially in a situation where alcohol was involved and the woman might not even have a clear memory of what happened during a sexual encounter. For genuine crimes of rape, we can't sweep it under the rug."

Schwiesow commended Governor Sarah Palin and her husband for giving life to their son Trig who has Down syndrome, especially when so many abort such children. "What a statement on the value of human life."

Though she is concerned about a number of issues, the value of innocent human life remains near and dear to Schwiesow's heart.

Next time Schwiesow talks about education funding.


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