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Harvard Square Observer: The War on Women

Ernest Cassara

The United States, as I have remarked before, is fond of fighting wars - on liquor (in the days of Prohibition), poverty (in the days of LBJ),  drugs, smoking, and, of course, terrorism.  You, no doubt, can add to this list.  Now, we see the War on Women coming to a head in the actions of the South Dakota legislature and its governor Michael Rounds.

The one time I had the occasion to see a fair amount of South Dakota resulted from the 1997 flood at Grand Forks, on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota.  We were driving west, our goal being Bellingham, Washington, from which we would sail along the inside passage on one of the ferries operated by the state of Alaska to Haines.  But to avoid the great flood that was threatening to engulf Grand Forks, we drove north into Manitoba, then west, and down into North Dakota.

Both Dakotas, as we traveled south, looked like frozen wastelands. Fields of ice and snow mile after mile.  Were it not for our pleasant stay at Bismarck, N.D., and our drive west to Mt. Rushmore in S.D., our overall remembrance of the Dakotas would be quite negative.

Now, our negative attitude toward S.D. is reinforced by its action on the eve of World Women's Day, of the legislature and governor's desire to control women's bodies.  One would think that we are back in the 19th century, when wives were, in effect, with all of their worldly goods, owned by their husbands. That is the attitude displayed by the legislature in its bill that would limit abortions to cases where a woman's life is in danger.

No abortions, believe it or not, in cases of incest or rape.  The pliant girl/woman must carry the fetus to term, remembering the horror of how it was conceived.  Any physician discovered performing abortions in the state can end up in the slammer for five years, plus paying a $5,000 fine!

Of course, we are told that the purpose of this legislation is reopen the question settled by the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court, the hope being that Justices Roberts and Alito are such right-wing crazies that they are willing to upset the accepted law of the land.  It will take years for the challenge to reach the Supremes, and, in the meantime, Planned Parenthood, which operates the one clinic in S.D. where abortions are performed, will fight it through the courts.

By the way, surveys indicate that about three-quarters of the voters in S.D. are against the action of their political leaders.  Let's hope they remember that on election day.

While it goes without saying that the procedure should not be undertaken lightly, only a megalomaniac believes he is in a position to tell a woman what she is allowed to do.

By the way, I looked up the S.D. legislature website.  If I counted correctly, there are two women members in the Senate, eleven in the House.

I have never understood, by the way, how some women appear to be in favor of allowing the state to control their bodies - or, at least, the bodies of OTHER women.  Whenever one witnesses demonstrations against abortion, one observes that a number of women take part.

One other point on this topic.  It is astounding that some folks who are adamantly against abortions are also against contraception.  What world are these people living in?

To which I would add this delightful thought.  The crowd, including President Bush, who are preaching "abstinence" to young people should be asked by young people to own up to how they acted when they were young!



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