Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Amanda Marcotte: Christian Intruders -- New Law Will Force Women to Listen to Religious Lectures Before Getting an Abortion

Christian Intruders: New Law Will Force Women to Listen to Religious Lectures Before Getting an Abortion
By Amanda Marcotte

In our new era of relentless, abusive laws aimed at curtailing women’s reproductive rights, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, but South Dakota managed to do just that on Tuesday, when Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill requiring a three-day waiting period -- the longest waiting period in the nation -- for any woman seeking abortion.

But even that is not what makes this law stand out. That honor goes to the requirement that women seeking abortion must go to a crisis pregnancy center, to submit to a lecture on the supposed evils of abortion; a lecture that will almost surely include misinformation on the dangers of abortion. In passing this law, South Dakota hit a triple, attacking reproductive rights, privacy rights and religious freedom with one law aimed at the single abortion clinic left in the entire state of South Dakota.

That the anti-choice movement is mostly a Christianist movement bent on imposing its religious beliefs on the public at large is one of the most under-discussed aspects of the abortion debate. This law should highlight the theocratic underpinnings of the anti-choice movement. Most and probably all crisis pregnancy centers are religious organizations that object to abortion because it conflicts with their religious dogma about female sexuality, women’s roles, and their belief about when the soul enters the body. Requiring women to sit through a lecture on Christian ethics about sexuality before getting an abortion should be a clear-cut case of a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, even if the crisis pregnancy centers are careful to avoid saying the word “Jesus” too much.

Republican state senator Al Novstrup claimed the bill is somehow protective of women, offering them a “second opinion,” which indicates not just his disrespect for religious freedom but his profound ignorance of options counseling typical to abortion clinics, especially Planned Parenthood, which runs the sole abortion clinic in the state. I don’t imagine he’d see it that way if the state required citizens to hear a “second opinion” about other private decisions based on personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Would Novstrup enjoy having to listen to a lecture from an atheist or Muslim group before joining a church, getting married or making plans for his own funeral? Why then is it appropriate to force women to listen to religious lectures before making a decision that involves their own religious beliefs about life?

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