Editorial Roundup: South Dakota

Yankton Press & Dakotan. June 27, 2022.

Editorial: Abortion Ruling Won’t End Abortion Fight

One sliver of consensus emerged from Friday’s momentous Supreme Court ruling on the Roe v. Wade abortion law: It was a historic day for America.

After that, opinions diverged strongly, which was no surprise given the contentious emotional gravity of the issue. The decision — which scuttled the constitutional right of women to have an abortion and instead referred the matter to the states — hammered an American raw nerve, even though this outcome had been telegraphed several weeks ago when a draft opinion indicating this direction was leaked to the public.

The court decision was many things on many fronts, but there was one thing that it wasn’t: the end of the abortion issue.

Far from it.

First and foremost, abortions will not go away. Some states will opt to offer them and others will not, thus creating a checkerboard across the land. And those women who cannot afford to travel to a pro-choice state may seek out other, more dangerous means to do the procedure.

The court’s decision will be political dynamite, and it will be intriguing to see how this develops. National polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans favor at least limited access to abortion in specific circumstances such as health matters or instances of rape or incest. How this decision will play with that majority will be important to watch.

South Dakota is one such case. Gov. Kristi Noem celebrated Friday’s court decision and is planning to call a special session to outlaw abortion in this state, apparently without provisions for rape or incest cases. The state’s voters rejected extremely restrictive abortion laws twice in the 2000s, but that doesn’t seem to be a factor in whatever plans are being drawn up in Pierre today. (Perhaps any proposed limitations or bans should be put before voters so they can have a say in what the state “wants.”)

Also, there has been talk of emboldened conservatives targeting other issues they oppose, such as same-sex marriage, contraception and LGBTQ rights — issues that, again, all enjoy majority support (in some cases, by sizable margins) among Americans. In fact, Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion Friday virtually invited groups to do just that, suggesting those efforts may find some sympathetic ears on the court. As extraordinary as the abortion decision is, striking at these other issues would not only further polarize the nation but it would also potentially call into question the spirit of a court inclined to take away rights from more and more Americans.

This is a stormy age in U.S. history, and the seas have just gotten even rougher. In terms of abortion, nothing is settled, and the stakes may be getting higher in the days to come.