SD House rejects reproductive rights week declarationPIERRE — The state House of Representatives refused Monday to declare Jan. 22-28 as reproductive rights awareness week in South Dakota.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — The state House of Representatives refused Monday to declare Jan. 22-28 as reproductive rights awareness week in South Dakota.
The debate turned into a 25-minute argument over abortion and whether legislators accurately represent the positions of South Dakota voters on the issue.
The vote was 53-12 against the resolution’s adoption.
“Abortion is a tragedy. It is a failure of human existence and it is not something to commemorate,” Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said.
Rep. Lora Hubbel, R-Sioux Falls, said the resolution would be “a stain” on South Dakota if it was approved.
The resolution, HCR 1001, was a political statement that lacked any direct legal significance. Its prime sponsor was Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron.
Gibson said she brought the resolution after attending a conference in Washington, D.C., last summer on women’s reproductive rights and justice.
The resolution contained a statement that a majority of American voters believe that women’s reproductive rights, including contraception and abortion, “are personal issues that should be decided by women with their families, health care providers and/or clergy members.”
Gibson said South Dakota voters in 2006 rejected the Legislature’s abortion ban and in 2008 rejected an initiated ban.
“We are representatives of the people of South Dakota. You are not voting with your constituents,” she said.
Rep. Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids, rose and said the resolution was unnecessary.
“I think citizens are well aware of contraception in South Dakota,” he said.
Hansen said the resolution represents “an extreme pro-abortion stance.” He said the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized state governments have the authority to regulate abortion and, depending upon the age of the unborn child, to prohibit abortions
“You got to have life before you can have liberty and property,” Rep. Mark Venner, R-Pierre, said.
Rep. Susy Blake, D-Sioux Falls, said sexual activity isn’t anything new and good, comprehensive sex education that starts in kindergarten is the answer.
“The fact is, condoms save life, period,” Blake said. She described the real problem as women getting pregnant when they don’t want to be. She said one of two pregnancies currently leads to another child receiving Medicaid in South Dakota.