THE BLOG
07/20/2008 08:57 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

"Whole and Separate"

What's happening to women's reproductive rights in South Dakota, and how are they getting away with it?

As of Friday, doctors in that state, before performing an abortion, are required, by law, to tell their patient that the procedure will "terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being."

Yes, and that's only part of the script. As if it's not bad enough that a medical practitioner, in South Dakota, must now ask a woman if she'd like to see a sonogram of the fetus, they must also let her know that an abortion will increase her chances of suicide, and she must confirm, in writing, that she understands this.

This isn't the first we've heard from South Dakota on this subject. Over the past two years, their legislature has attempted to place the most draconian restrictions on legal abortion of any in the country. While other states require informed consent, South Dakota is the only state currently audacious enough to describe a fetus as a separate, but equal being.

Remember the days when doctors used the word "script" as shorthand for prescription? Well, those days might are over if anti-choice folks get their way as health care practitioners may soon be pitching abstincence, and adoption, over abortion, and practicing ideology, not gynecology, between the stirrups.

And this from an executive branch which will, for generations, be remembered as the signature signing statement White House, along with a proposal that all federally-funded funded health programs certify, in writing, not to discriminate against hospitals, doctors, or health-care workers who refuse to perform abortions or provide emergency contraception which may include, but not be limited to, the morning-after pill, and oral contraceptives. How's that for chutzpah from a government whose own Justice Department has been shown to be discriminating against prospective staff hiring based on political party affiliation?

An administration that has made abstinence-only programs a requirement for federal funding in HIV/AIDS clinics both at home and abroad, has made survival itself, in much of the AIDS-devastated world, a matter of privilege. Now, as this latest proposal stipulates, "any of the various procedures--including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any action--that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth" may no longer be eligible to receive tax dollars.

To add insult to injury, the Bush camp claims that Congress led the way with legislation that protected health care providers from being coerced to perform abortions. If this is so, where were we, whose taxes pay their salaries, not aware that Congress was signing off on what amounts to an affirmative action program for medical ideologues?

Those who made selective deception their mantra for the past eight years want, as their legacy, selective discrimination. Discrimination against those who discriminate, rightly, against an attempt to break down the boundaries between religious precepts and scientific practice. It is not the patient's business what the doctor's personal belief system is any more than it is the doctor's business what his patient's personal beliefs are.

How dare any government, state or federal, to force its way between a woman and her doctor, and transform medical practitioners into cops with scripts in their ongoing surge of ideology.

And, what an impressive, unforgettable, if unbelievable, display of concern for what happens to the "life of a human being" while it is in utero from an administration that has shown no concern whatsoever for poor children without health coverage, and one whose economic policies have led to the abhorrent reality that 1 in 5 children will go to bed hungry tonight. We can only hope to be spared from all this hypocritical concern about the life of the unborn.

This commander-in-chief, and generals in Iraq and Afghanistan, should show their concern, too, and be given a pitch to read to their troops that going to war will terminate "the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being." Wonder how many generals would go along with the script, and how many would enlist were they required to hear those words a few hours before leaving for their tour of duty.