Pro-Choice South Dakotans Make Major Headway on Petition
Pro-choice South Dakotans have until June 19 to collect 16,728 signatures to put the state's abortion ban with no exceptions for rape and incest on the November ballot. According to a report in the LA Times, they've already collected a third of the signatures required from all sides of the political spectrum:
Spotting three teenagers with clipboards as he walked up to the Sturgis post office, Jack Hoel, 74, broke into a grin.It's unfortunate that it took such an extreme law to wake people up and make them realize that the anti-choice crowd is serious about controlling women's lives and bodies, but isn't this the way it always works? The movement that has transpired in response to the law is incredibly exciting and encouraging:
"I can't wait to sign," he said. "I was going to go out looking for this petition."
Hoel is a staunch Republican in a county that twice backed President Bush with nearly 75% of the vote. "You have to be, in South Dakota, or you get extradited," he joked.
But Hoel disliked the thought of politicians interfering in a family's most intimate decisions. "It's too personal to be legislated," he said.
On college campuses, in tiny farm towns, in tanning salons, on golf courses and in city parks, more than 400 volunteers are circulating petitions. They are organized by the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, which in turn is funded by major abortion-rights supporters such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the American Civil Liberties Union.It's also refreshing to read about the wide range of people who are signing the petition:
"I greatly appreciate your doing this," Priscilla Massey-Swan, 46, told the three high school seniors who had skipped calculus to gather signatures.
The teenagers, who live in Rapid City, had worried their low-cut jeans, chunky necklaces and silver toe rings looked "too hippie" to earn them respect in this Black Hills town of 6,400, most famous for its annual motorcycle rally. "We should have brought Wranglers," said Morandi Hurst, 17.
But as they filled up their petitions, their mood lifted, and they made plans to canvass even smaller towns. "I have renewed faith in the people of South Dakota," said Serri Graslie, 18. "This is turning out much better than I thought."
Flipping through his paperwork outside the Rapid City courthouse, volunteer Gary Heckenlaible, 60, spread his arms wide in exultation. "Man, we're just zipping!" he cried.Even though I'm vegan, this was my favorite quote in the story:
He and his friend Shirley Frederick, 69, had collected signatures from harried mothers and brusque lawyers, from a young soldier on leave from Iraq and from an elderly Catholic woman who looked about furtively as she signed, afraid her bishop would find out.
Eileen S. Roggenthen, 57, signed with a flourish. She felt obligated; it was a form of atonement. After all, she had voted for three of the lawmakers who supported the ban. She had known they were antiabortion, but said she was more concerned with their views on agriculture.
"I thought I was an informed voter," Roggenthen said. "I didn't know they were so gung-ho on this."
"If someone would have told me four weeks ago that we'd be getting this level of support, I would have said, 'You're a liar,' " Heckenlaible said. "I'm enjoying this like I enjoy a 20-ounce steak. It doesn't get any better."Heckenlaible said he gathered 75 signatures in less than two hours.
If you'd like to support these incredible efforts, visit South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families.