Tuesday, March 07, 2006

South Dakota: A small loophole

In today's edition of Slate, William Saletan writes that a careful reading of the new anti-abortion law implies that "South Dakota gives you five days to kill what it calls your unborn child." This is because while it prohibits taking drugs to abort the embryo after pregnancy has been detected, it does not prohibit them after sex. Thus a window of a few days is opened that legally allows pharmacists and doctors to prescribe women abortive contraceptives before a pregnancy is detected. Saletan points out that:
The purpose of the loophole is to give rape victims a grace period. Americans overwhelmingly think abortion should be allowed in cases of rape. Rape victims are the women most likely to know immediately after sex that they're at high risk of unwanted pregnancy. Give them morning-after pills, and you've solved the political problem.
Of course, this completely goes against the law's own logic:
But now you've got a scientific, moral, and legal problem. The South Dakota law purports to supersede Roe because "scientific advances since the 1973 decision" show that "life begins at the time of conception." It concludes that unborn children, "from fertilization to full gestation," have an "inalienable right to life." Nobody who seriously believed these things would give you five days to kill an embryo, any more than they'd give you five days to kill a baby. The loophole discredits the law's rationale.
I suppose we should be grateful that the law's proponents are not yet fully consistent. But then evil never has to be.

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