What's the Matter With South Dakota?

On Tuesday the Washington Post ran a front—page story on the rarity of abortion in South Dakota. A good news story, right? No, not to the Post. Though liberals often say, a la Bill Clinton, that they prefer abortion 'rare,' they usually treat its rarity as bad news and an alarm bell for renewed abortion activism. The subtext of the Post's story, 'South Dakota Makes Abortion Rare Though Laws and Stigma,' is: unless Roe v. Wade is shored up, even strengthened, the whole country may go the way of South Dakota, and we can't have that.

What's interesting about the press's alarmist abortion coverage of the last few years —— the Roe—v.—Wade—is—almost—dead storyline it uses instinctually—— is that it undercuts the stare decisis sophistries it simultaneously pushes. That is, these stories suggest that abortion is not deeply interwoven in the American social fabric, which undermines the left's stare decisis claim that overturning Roe v. Wade would trigger paralyzing social confusion  and calamity. This stare decisis claim is pathetic to begin with — that a gross injustice is embedded in society is not a serious reason for declaring it constitutional, a point the left used to make when the subject of entrenched racism came up. But the argument is even lame on the left's own terms, given reports that Americans are already learning to live without abortion in states like South Dakota.

The Washington Post slapped this piece on the front page because the Alito hearings are coming up and something obviously must be done to arrest a successful pro—life movement. Working hard to twist good news into bad, the Post reports ominously that doctors in South Dakota are observing the Hippocratic Oath. No doctor in South Dakota will perform an abortion, according to the Post, and the state only has one 'abortion  provider'! Of course the subtext here is: boy, what a backwards state. The Post notes that two other backwards states —— North Dakota and Mississippi —— are similarly short on abortionists. They too only have 'one abortion provider.' Oh, how uncivilized.

And why won't doctors perform abortions eagerly in these states? Well, because pro—lifers are a very intimidating lot, according to the press's coverage. Doctors would be happy to perform abortions if the hoi polloi just weren't so uptight about doctors observing the Hippocratic Oath.  For example, the Post's story, with very little documentation, chalks up the paucity of abortion providers in South Dakota to a climate of fear. South Dakota doctors, says the Post, don't think the abortion practice is 'worth the stigma of being branded a baby killer.'

Could it be the case that doctors aren't peforming abortions there not because they fear being branded baby killers but because they don't want to be baby killers? Only the motive of fear registers with the Post. The motive of conscience isn't even considered.

The victims in stories like the Post's are not the unborn children but the women and the enlightened—but—constrained doctors who would like to kill their babies. How terribly inconvenienced these women and doctors are. Very heroically, reports the Post, doctors from Minnesota fly into South Dakota to perform abortions for women who have to drive '350 miles' across the state to a Planned Parenthood building in Sioux Falls. Yes, that sounds like a long drive. But isn't being killed a little more inconvenient? 

The Post, trying very assiduously to present the women using this clinic as good women choosing abortion for good reasons, describes various hardscrabble cases. And then there is this one, with its revealing tip—off: a '29—year—old teacher who became pregnant while using birth control with her boyfriend of a few months, who is also a teacher, said she was not ready for a a child and neither was he.' In other words, the Post is instructing us that they are entitled to abortion; after all, they went to the trouble of using birth control and it failed on them. 

'What's the matter with South Dakota?' should have been the title of the Post's story. The Post, looking down its nose at reactionaries in flyover counry, is terrified at the prospect of children not being aborted and doctors observing the Hippocratic Oath. What's next, Supreme Court justices who read rather than rewrite the Constitution? Yet hopefully Alito's defenders will remember to cite the press's Roe—v.—Wade—has—shriveled—up stories to silence it when it sqwaks about stare decisis.

Abortion, not its absence, has destabilized society, and a country that sees killing its future children as essential to the preservation of its social order will not have one.

George Neumayr is a writer living in the Washington, D.C. area.

On Tuesday the Washington Post ran a front—page story on the rarity of abortion in South Dakota. A good news story, right? No, not to the Post. Though liberals often say, a la Bill Clinton, that they prefer abortion 'rare,' they usually treat its rarity as bad news and an alarm bell for renewed abortion activism. The subtext of the Post's story, 'South Dakota Makes Abortion Rare Though Laws and Stigma,' is: unless Roe v. Wade is shored up, even strengthened, the whole country may go the way of South Dakota, and we can't have that.

What's interesting about the press's alarmist abortion coverage of the last few years —— the Roe—v.—Wade—is—almost—dead storyline it uses instinctually—— is that it undercuts the stare decisis sophistries it simultaneously pushes. That is, these stories suggest that abortion is not deeply interwoven in the American social fabric, which undermines the left's stare decisis claim that overturning Roe v. Wade would trigger paralyzing social confusion  and calamity. This stare decisis claim is pathetic to begin with — that a gross injustice is embedded in society is not a serious reason for declaring it constitutional, a point the left used to make when the subject of entrenched racism came up. But the argument is even lame on the left's own terms, given reports that Americans are already learning to live without abortion in states like South Dakota.

The Washington Post slapped this piece on the front page because the Alito hearings are coming up and something obviously must be done to arrest a successful pro—life movement. Working hard to twist good news into bad, the Post reports ominously that doctors in South Dakota are observing the Hippocratic Oath. No doctor in South Dakota will perform an abortion, according to the Post, and the state only has one 'abortion  provider'! Of course the subtext here is: boy, what a backwards state. The Post notes that two other backwards states —— North Dakota and Mississippi —— are similarly short on abortionists. They too only have 'one abortion provider.' Oh, how uncivilized.

And why won't doctors perform abortions eagerly in these states? Well, because pro—lifers are a very intimidating lot, according to the press's coverage. Doctors would be happy to perform abortions if the hoi polloi just weren't so uptight about doctors observing the Hippocratic Oath.  For example, the Post's story, with very little documentation, chalks up the paucity of abortion providers in South Dakota to a climate of fear. South Dakota doctors, says the Post, don't think the abortion practice is 'worth the stigma of being branded a baby killer.'

Could it be the case that doctors aren't peforming abortions there not because they fear being branded baby killers but because they don't want to be baby killers? Only the motive of fear registers with the Post. The motive of conscience isn't even considered.

The victims in stories like the Post's are not the unborn children but the women and the enlightened—but—constrained doctors who would like to kill their babies. How terribly inconvenienced these women and doctors are. Very heroically, reports the Post, doctors from Minnesota fly into South Dakota to perform abortions for women who have to drive '350 miles' across the state to a Planned Parenthood building in Sioux Falls. Yes, that sounds like a long drive. But isn't being killed a little more inconvenient? 

The Post, trying very assiduously to present the women using this clinic as good women choosing abortion for good reasons, describes various hardscrabble cases. And then there is this one, with its revealing tip—off: a '29—year—old teacher who became pregnant while using birth control with her boyfriend of a few months, who is also a teacher, said she was not ready for a a child and neither was he.' In other words, the Post is instructing us that they are entitled to abortion; after all, they went to the trouble of using birth control and it failed on them. 

'What's the matter with South Dakota?' should have been the title of the Post's story. The Post, looking down its nose at reactionaries in flyover counry, is terrified at the prospect of children not being aborted and doctors observing the Hippocratic Oath. What's next, Supreme Court justices who read rather than rewrite the Constitution? Yet hopefully Alito's defenders will remember to cite the press's Roe—v.—Wade—has—shriveled—up stories to silence it when it sqwaks about stare decisis.

Abortion, not its absence, has destabilized society, and a country that sees killing its future children as essential to the preservation of its social order will not have one.

George Neumayr is a writer living in the Washington, D.C. area.