Midwest style of Sharia Law in the “Mount Rushmore State”?
Conservative Christians are quick to condemn Muslim law that suppresses the women in Afghanistan and other Muslim nations around the world, but when they seek to enforce similar heavy-handed measures they are seen as serving the spiritual needs of their community and “a need to protect the pregnant mother’s interest in her relationship with her child and her health”.
Anti-abortionist legislators in South Dakota are pushing a bill, HB 1217, that requires a woman to be counseled at a religious affiliated center before a doctor is allowed to perform a state approved abortion. Creating the illusion that women may be coerced into having an abortion, fundamentalist activists have pressured their state representatives to side step the existing law that allows limited abortions and impose a restriction that they hope will prevent choices women make regarding unwanted pregnancies
“In search of an answer to a non-existent problem, anti-choice legislators are proposing that before all women undergo an abortion, they need to be evaluated for signs of coercion” reports Robin Marty in a recent AlterNet article And according to the anti-choice politicians, the best person to make the final decision about the woman’s mental state isn’t a physician, a psychologist, or even a certified counselor. No, instead she should be evaluated by a paid employee or volunteer at one of the state’s anti-abortion, primarily Christian-based crisis pregnancy centers. (Will Draconian South Dakota Force Women to Visit Religious Pregnancy Centers Before Abortions? by Robin Marty, AlterNet.com, 2/18/11)
One similarity between South Dakota’s HB 1217 and restrictions on women in Afghanistan is where women in Afghanistan are “not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male chaperone”, an inconvenience for many men that would lead to illnesses remaining untreated for the women. Check out the full list of restrictions imposed on Afghani women here. Is the hypocrisy missed on conservatives who support this bill by coercing young ladies to attend these “counseling” centers to make sure they aren’t being coerced to have an abortion?
The Taliban impose their rule through their interpretation of Sharia law which is part of the Muslim’s religious faith. The South Dakota bill HB 1217 that requires women seeking an abortion to first attend a christian-based counseling center before a doctor can approve an abortion is a weak attempt to disguise a religious connection between the law and the views of many fundamentalist Christians.
HB1217 was preceded by an even more draconian bill that opened the door to make murder justifiable homicide for anyone who “killed” a fetus, a law clearly aimed at abortion clinics and the doctors who served them. Fortunately that effort was defeated but only, some think, to propose what supporters view as the less offensive HB 1217 bill.
There of course is a world of difference between what the Taliban impose on their women and what is going on in South Dakota but I would suggest, as do conservatives when they fear any attempts to alter their traditions or conventions, that one small change can become a slippery slope to further changes.
- More Anti-Abortion Crazy from South Dakota [Dispatches from the Culture Wars] (scienceblogs.com)
- “South Dakota bill could justify killing abortion doctors” and related posts (personalmoneystore.com)