About those "Rape Exceptions" in Proposed South Dakota Abortion Ban...

Trigger Warning


Last Sunday morning when I was in South Dakota we received the Argus Leader newspaper, which contained this article detailing the proposed abortion ban and laying out the “pros” and “cons” of the bill based on what each side has been saying. It was way too much for my blood pressure to deal with at 9AM after two very exhausting days, but I would like to address some of those “pro” arguments now — namely, those revolving around the rape “exceptions.”


I discussed the content of those so-called rape exceptions in Measure 11 and what they entail in depth in this post. They are absolutely cruel to women, which was the primary argument I made at the time. What I didn’t necessarily see coming — and hey, sometimes I’m short-sighted — was that just as anti-choicers have tried to reframe revoking a woman’s reproductive rights as empowering to her, they would attempt to reframe revoking a woman’s choice to not report her rape as also empowering to her. Or, at least, empowering to society, and she’d certainly be second to that, now wouldn’t she?


Let’s take a look at the first argument:

Before a doctor could perform an abortion in these instances, the victim would be told that a report was required, and the doctor would be required to report the crime “by telephone or otherwise” to the state’s attorney or law enforcement.


The report would be made in the county in which the assault occurred. If that were unknown, the report would be made to law enforcement in the county in which the report was made to the doctor. The name, address and birth date of the woman, the date or dates of the rape or incest, the name and address or a description of the attacker (in rape cases) or the relationship between the pregnant woman and the perpetrator (in incest cases) also would need to be in the report.


Pro: Shifting the burden of reporting from victim to doctor eases some of the trauma, supporters say. The report can help catch the perpetrator, they add. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but if it is truly a case of rape or incest, we’re doing a disservice to society if we don’t do that,” Ridder said.
I have to give the anti-choice Satan spawns credit where credit is due: to the untrained eye, this argument looks pretty good. But the fact is that it’s flat-out wrong.
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