Well, today I bring the sad news that the South Dakota legislators have passed a bill banning abortion in all cases except where the mother's life is at risk. There's no provision for rape or incest, no help for those caught out by failed birth control. All that's left is for the state's republican governor to sign it into law.
[In the USA, government powers are split between the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. For a law to become law, it has to be passed by the state's legislature, then signed into law by the executive (the governor) and it can be blocked by the judicial (the state's courts). It can also be vetoed by the governor. Just so it's clear]
The problem is that even if the state's courts rule the law unconstitutional and overturn it, the decision can - and will - be appealed at the next level of courts, eventually, of course, ending up before the US Supreme Court which, with the confirmation of Justice Alito, seems to be - at least, this is the religious right's hope - stacked in favour of upholding such legislation.
The only hope for South Dakotans is that the governor will refuse to sign it (unlikely in the extreme) or that one court along the way will block the legislation and the next court in the line will refuse to hear the case (even more unlikely). Sadly, the pro-life movement has been gaining momentum here from the second Roe v Wade was passed, and now they have supporters at virtually every area of government.
It's sad because this just isn't the USA I was taught about in school. In a truly free country, abortion would be available. Don't like abortion? Don't have one. You have the right to not have an abortion, but in a country that loves freedom, you don't have the right to prevent anyone else from having one.
If you don't like abortion, work to make them unnecessary, not illegal. Reduce unwanted pregnancy and you reduce abortion - it's causal. Campaign for better information and education about birth control (but of course, the religious right also paradoxically hate birth control - go figure), work to improve the adoption/foster care system, contribute to systems to educate girls about pregnancy and ways to avoid it. All these are simply examples of ways to work to reduce abortion without trampling over people's freedoms and whilst respecting women's rights.
But the pro-life lobby aren't interested in freedoms and respect. A glance at their literature shows it to be full of hate, vitriol, and lies, strange considering that most style themselves as Christians. Not that the pro-choice lobby are saints. A lot of misinformation and exaggeration goes on there, too.
South Dakota's new law is even sadder because it's obviously just another step towards an eventual federal ban (that's where abortion is banned across the entire country rather than just on a state level). America has been sliding towards this for a while now. It's saddening that the question has been settled in most civilised countries, yet here in America, the extremist minority still seek to control the lives of the majority - in a country built on individual freedom and liberty. It's saddening all the more for the fact that they are winning.
State legislators have also passed the preliminary stages of getting a similar law onto the books in Mississippi, and the US Supreme Court has just ruled in favour of pro-life groups in a case dealing with how law enforcement may deal with their protests. Here in Kentucky, both pro-choice and pro-life legislation are on the books, but the latter are more wide ranging and more supported.
I know that this country's abortion struggle is not my fight. I'm just a visitor here. But it does make me all the more determined to keep an eye on things in the UK, and to do my part to support the right to choose back home.