Saturday, February 25, 2006

I mean, I KNOW it's in the name and all. . .

I thought South Dakota Dark would be a great name. I thought it would stand out on web searches, etc.

And then my home state had to go and ban abortion. And now every yahoo with a blog thinks that some variation on "South Dakota enters the dark ages" is clever. (Caveat: The governor has to sign the bill. He didn't in 2004, sending it back on a technical veto that then failed in the state Senate. So when people say S.D. has banned abortion, they mean "almost." See up there a few sentences ago? I went and did it too!)

(Further caveat: I get that this is a big deal. I know I promised to stay away from politics. But it's IN THE NAME. Also, whoever wrote the blog headline, "What's so funny 'bout peace, love and family planning?" That was really funny! Comedy gold!)

One thing I found out was that there are a lot of blogs written by South Dakotans and ex-South Dakotans. Go us! Another thing I found out is that they all seem to be liberals, which seems strange to me (well, except for South Dakota Politics, but that kid always spells yesterday "yesturday," so I don't know that he's a shining example of all conservatism has to offer).

At first, I figured this was a political ploy in my home state. Even though, the opinion on abortion is essentially 50/50 in S.D., the people who do most of the voting are pretty staunchly against it. By opposing it with a law that seems destined to fail, the legislators get to have their cake and eat it too (i.e. they don't actually have to get abortion repealed, but they reap all of the temporary benefits a REAL repeal would bring them).

But as I read the articles out of S.D., I realize that people really, really, really care about this issue. It's easy to forget the farther you get away from that part of the country just how many one-issue voters there are, crammed into some wide-open spaces. The legislators of South Dakota believe they are doing the Lord's work. Whether they are or not is almost wholly beside the point by now.

Of course, now I live in California. One of my best friends at work is someone who previously worked at a feminist publication in San Francisco. So, of course, she thinks I come from the land of redneck hicks. To a very real degree, it's hard to explain to her the fervor that animates those on the pro-life side in my home state. It's hard to explain to her that I still love the place, even if the people there often chase rabbits down long, meandering trails.

But she's never seen a thunderstorm there. . .

My own feelings on abortion, I think, are beside the point. Suffice it to say, I'm adopted, so I have a long relationship with the issue. But the primary emotion I feel in regard to the issue is frustration. It dominates the political stage in a way that's almost unfair. My grandkids will laugh when they hear that gay marriage was a big deal when I was a young man, but they'll probably still be debating abortion. Why? Probably because the debate about abortion has real ethical nuance. It's possible to be a pro-life atheist, whereas an atheist who believed firmly in creationism would. . .not be a very good atheist.

So what it is that my home state has undertaken is a huge gamble (in essence, they're betting that Justice Stevens retires or dies AND the GOP doesn't lose the Senate in the midterms, which is actually kind of a big bet to be making). And they've done it because they really, truly think they're doing the right thing.

And the only people who will be able to judge that with any accuracy are the historians.

I should write more about this issue at some point, but I've been veering between a gamut of emotions on the issue, so I'll wait a while before doing so.

(I mean REALLY. "Peace, Love and Family Planning?" That's PERFECT!)

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