Thursday, April 06, 2006

South Dakota abortion ban
A Sioux tribal president's wisdom

Pro-choice demonstrators, San Francisco, 2006

Yesterday I got a fund appeal. That's not extraordinary; it happens every day. A friend asked me to contribute to South Dakota Healthy Families, a coalition aiming to put the state's new abortion ban on the ballot in the November election.

Somehow, I'd missed the campaign to put a stake in this thing by popular vote. That sounds like a good idea. But that's not what I want to write about tonight -- that's a matter of tactics and strategy, worth pondering. But first I thought I'd research a bit more about South Dakota and the folks involved.

Though I'm not an enthusiast for abortions, I come to this believing that no woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy should be governed by a tangle of laws and moral injunctions framed in male-defined societies. Maybe when women have been considered fully human by everyone (including ourselves) for a few millennia, we'll have more perspective on the right relationship between a woman and the fertilized egg she can carry. Meanwhile, I believe each woman has to be free to figure this out through whatever means of moral discernment is her own.

One response to the abortion ban has gotten a lot of press: Cecilia Fire Thunder, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, has offered sovereign native land as a site for a clinic to make abortion available within South Dakota. This seems a brave and generous offer. According to Indian Country, she has a lot to say about the issues in abortion decisions:

''I have very strong opinions of what happened. These are a bunch of white guys determining what a woman should do with her body,'' Fire Thunder said. Fire Thunder was a nurse and has worked with women who were traumatized by rape....

American Indian women will be impacted, if the law takes effect, in greater numbers than any other group. According to national statistics, American Indian women are sexually assaulted at a rate 3.5 times higher than all other racial groups. That means there are seven rapes per 1,000 American Indian women....

''If they are going to outlaw abortions [they should] put more money into sex education and pregnancy prevention. It's fine to tell people to abstain from sex. Adult people in our country expect young people to abstain when they don't abstain,'' she said.

''It's my personal opinion that it's a woman's choice. She makes the decision and the only person she is going to be accountable to is the Creator and the spirit of that child,'' Fire Thunder said. ...

''The Creator gave every human being [the right] to make choices for yourself. Another person may not think that is the right choice and a lot of people have made bad choices in their lives, but it's their choice....We have to honor the gift the Creator gave us; one of the greatest gifts is to choose for ourselves.''

One of the core insults that forced pregnancy crusaders throw at women is that we take abortion lightly, that we haven't thought the issues through. Cecilia Fire Thunder obviously has -- she can speak for me on this one.

Tomorrow I'll write about what I learned about the political context and potential of the South Dakota Healthy Families campaign.

1 comment:

TBLJ said...

I read about this woman and blogged about her. She is an amazing woman and a pretty tuff cookie.

Check this out

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