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Pro-Life Legislators: A Call for Collaboration
Fred Deutsch, D.C. | 23 May 2019
Currently, state legislators have the option of joining numerous national legislative organizations including the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the Council of State Governments (CSG), and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). While the mission of the organizations varies, (1-3) each provides opportunities for legislators to gather at national and in some instances regional meetings to study, discuss, collaborate, and strategize about issues of importance to the states. There are literally dozens of topics to choose from.(1-3) Examples include energy, health, education, and public safety. Unfortunately, none of the organizations offer topics on life or other bioethical issues that are of significance to the states.
Organizations such as National Right to Life,(4) the Charlotte Lozier Institute,(5) and Americans United for Life(6) all perform important pro-life work including education, lobbying, and model bill development, but none provide a forum for state legislators to meet for discussion, planning, collaboration, or to strategize legislation.
This means legislators seeking to share ideas or otherwise collaborate must take other avenues to disseminate ideas such as religious or personal forums.
To this end, I encourage readers with information about their state legislation to contribute to this forum, and I offer a summary of the six bills and two resolutions introduced in the 2019 South Dakota legislative session.
1. SB72(7) was introduced by the governor’s office in response to longstanding issues with Planned Parenthood (PP) not providing informed consent disclosures consistent with state law. To remedy the problem, SB72 requires PP use state-issued informed consent forms. As an example of the problem, under current South Dakota law one requirement is an abortionist disclose to a woman about to undergo an abortion that the procedure will “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living being” (8) However, instead of providing the disclosure exactly as required by law, PP precedes the disclosure with the statement “state politicians require us to tell you . . .” This terminology is used for numerous disclosures. After earlier efforts to enforce compliance failed, SB72 was introduced to require PP use state-issued informed consent forms.
2. SB85(9) moves the date of Department of Health’s public report requirement from November fifteenth to July first. Introduced by Senator Jim Stalzer on behalf of South Dakota Right to Life (SDRTL), the purpose is to provide pro-life organizations more time to analyze abortion data and develop plans to respond. The bill passed both chambers unanimously and was signed into law.
3. HB1055,(10) also known as Simon’s Law, requires parental notification and agreement before a doctor places a do not resuscitate (DNR) order on a child’s medical chart. The law was originally passed in Kansas after a DNR order was placed in the medical chart of a little boy named Simon without his parent’s knowledge. After Simon passed away, the DNR order was discovered.
Under current South Dakota law, an abortionist must offer a pregnant mother seeking an abortion the opportunity to see her sonogram. HB1177 (11) adds the requirement that an abortionist must also offer the pregnant mother the opportunity to hear her fetal heartbeat. The mother is free to choose not to view the sonogram or listen to the heartbeat, but both must be offered for the mother to decide if she wishes to see and hear them.
4. HB1177 is an additional step the legislature felt could be taken to ensure that the mother’s consent for an abortion is as fully informed as possible and furthers the State's interest in protecting life. Even if the mother opts not to view or hear the sonogram or fetal heart tones, just the abortionist's questions may cause her to reflect that she really is carrying a baby that has both an image and a heartbeat. Ultimately, that knowledge may cause her to decide to carry her unborn child to term.
5. HB1190(12) updates the informed consent requirements to include reporting on the number of mothers that chose to hear the heartbeat of their baby from HB1177.
6. HB1193(13) establishes a Class B felony (mandatory life in prison) if a person threatens to commit homicide, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault or kidnapping against a pregnant mother, with the intent to cause the pregnant mother to undergo an abortion against her will and cause the pregnant mother to undergo an abortion against her will that results in the death of the unborn baby.
7. HR1003(14) is a resolution denouncing the passage of New York's abortion law and requesting that the Governor declare a day of prayer and fasting to atone for the unspeakable crime of abortion. Sponsored by fellow RTL board member Rep. John Hansen, the highlights are:
Whereas, On the forty-sixth anniversary to the day of the Roe v. Wade decision, the Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, the fifty-sixth Governor of the state of New York, signed into law an act that permits nearly limitless abortion of a child in utero, even in the last moments before that child’s eyes see the light beyond the womb; and,
Whereas, Other states in our Union may seek to follow this path. All life is sacred and that every person has dignity and worth. We are speaking of fully-formed babies. We are speaking of human beings with fully-formed hearts and lungs, eyes and mouths, hands and feet, utterly indistinguishable from our own children and grandchildren; and,
Whereas, Life is sacred from the moment of conception. We know, by the eternal law and the evidence of history, that the destruction of innocent life cries out to heaven for justice. With all humility and in fitting fear for perdition, it is thus proper to bow before the unseen Author of all life and beg mercy in atonement for our sins and the sins of our countrymen, that the cause of our sadness might be lifted from this land and harmony among all restored; and,
Now, Therefore, I, Kristi Noem, Governor of the state of South Dakota do hereby proclaim May 4, 2019, as
A DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR ALL
8. HR1004(15) is a resolution petitioning Congress and the President to defund Planned Parenthood of all federal funding.
A summary of legislative efforts including voting totals follows. Please share legislation from your state.
http://www.ncsl.org/ NCSL provides state legislators "research, technical assistance, and opportunities to engage in dialogue on issues of significance to the states."
https://www.csg.org/: "CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships."
https://www.alec.org/: "The American Legislative Exchange is America's largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism."
Rep. Fred Deutsch, D.C., President, South Dakota Right to Life