Buhl O’Donnell: Lawmakers Have No Business Dictating Pregnancy

As Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-4/Florence) ramps up the culture war by peddling the anti-abortion distraction on our university campuses, Senator Angie Buhl O’Donnell (D-15/Sioux Falls) offers the one line that captures the proper role of government in women’s reproductive choices:

Senator Angie Buhl O'Donnell (D-15/Sioux Falls)
Senator Angie Buhl O’Donnell (D-15/Sioux Falls)

Angie Buhl O’Donnell grew up in one Catholic household and married into another. As a baby, she was given up for adoption and taken into a loving home. Because of her religious background and her personal history, Buhl O’Donnell detested the idea of abortion.

Then she grew up.

“I am pro-choice, but I did not come to it lightly,” says the 30-year-old nursing assistant, who doubles as a Democratic state senator representing Sioux Falls. “Ultimately, it’s really hard to imagine a lawmaker having an appropriate place in whether, and when, to start a family” [Mike Mullen, “Borders Without Doctors: South Dakota’s War on Abortion and Modernity,” CityPages.com, 2015.11.11].

Rep. Fred Deutsch and Senator Angie Buhl O’Donnell have as much business telling my neighbor across the street whether she should carry a pregnancy to term as I do—zero. We need more lawmakers like Senator Buhl O’Donnell who recognize their proper role.

16 Responses to Buhl O’Donnell: Lawmakers Have No Business Dictating Pregnancy

  1. larry kurtz

    Rich women have full reproductive freedom flying to Minneapolis or Denver for procedures while women at middle and lower income levels experience chilling effects on their rights. South Dakota’s repeated attempts to restrict access to medical care is not only mean-spirited, it’s discriminatory anti-choice extremism.

  2. Bob Newland

    When Larry says “chilling effects on their rights,” he is being gentle. Current SoDak law demeans women at every turn in their attempt to govern their own reproduction. That’s not only chilling, it is downright terror-inducing. That is the effect I believe is desired by those legislative fingers that pressed the green button for these laws.

  3. LK Burghardt

    Senator Buhl O’Donnell has this right! Being pro choice does not mean that a person is pro abortion. Somehow South Dakota has ended up with way too many ‘holier than thou’ religious extremists who have confused their religious beliefs with lawmaking. Seriously, people, take a look at Texas. Their idea of sex education is abstinence and they’re doing their best to set women back decades! Abstinence only works if your daughter is a nun. …[CAH edit]… Separation of church and state PLEASE! And let’s all try to elect state government officials who are truly in touch with the average citizen.

  4. Roger Cornelius

    Ah! So the republicans have launched their 2016 election campaign with a pro-life tour.
    Soon to follow will be a 2nd Amendment/NRA campaign tour followed by the economic “the sky is following” campaign.
    Every weak minded pro-life, pro-NRA republican will now follow in line and vote republican and totally dismiss 6 years of republican financial scandals and corruption.

  5. The young Ms. O’Donnell may be right on this issue. Unfortunately she is wrong on so many more that it obscures her among those insaner than most and renders her ineffective. I hope this year she can be voted a leader among her peers and put forth some meaningful laws. Or better yet stop the unmeaningful ones in a rational manner.

    Like my other friend Bill says, “if you’re a libertine bastard all the time you don’t get invited to any global pirate parties.”

  6. Paul Seamans

    Angie is another Democratic possibility for higher office. I would sure like to see more young people like her in Pierre.

  7. I am glad to see that Senator Buhl is not so far gone that she regrets her life. Maybe rather than fixating on the liberal culture of death, she should stand up as an example for the potential of life. To think that an unwanted baby could one day become a state senator and a nursing assistant is inspiring. Senator Buhl’s very existence debunks the idea that an abortion is better than giving birth to an unwanted child. That unwanted child’s future is unwritten and undetermined. Perhaps the extreme dissonance between her reality and her fantasy will break, and she will change her mind on the issue and not snuff out the life of other unborn children just because she already has secured her right to life.

  8. Steve Hickey

    Lawmakers aren’t dictating pregnancy. The pregancy is already a fact. They aren’t involving themselves in when to start a family. The family is already started. The state has a interest in protecting the most vulnerable members of society including the rights of the newest members of society.

  9. Judging from Rev. Hickey’s comment above, one would think that Roe vs. Wade was never decided. To review the law of the land: the U.S. Supreme Court ruled decade ago that the right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting women’s health and protecting the potentiality of human life. Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy. What’s despicable is the terror, as Bob so aptly describes, that South Dakota has no problem unleashing on women no matter the stage of pregnancy they may be in, or, no matter their desire, if they aren’t pregnant, to remain so — as the recent Planned Parenthood brouhaha so aptly demonstrates.

  10. Bob Newland

    Hickey thinks he’s consistent in his views on “life.” Problem is, he has this goofy notion that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s ark. It colors his judgment.

  11. Bill Fleming

    Hickey’s problem is granularity. Pregnancy isn’t a moment in time, it is a duration of time. And family is far more than an intermingling of microscopic genetic material. My challenge to him is to rethink these two first principles and reevaluate before he presumes to speak (much less legislate) on behalf of society. And remember, Steve, as any physicist, philosopher or theologian will tell you, if you chop anything up small enough, it becomes everything.

  12. Bill Fleming

    For example, before Hickey’s y chomosome expressed itself, he was a woman. That’s why he has nipples. Before that, he was basically indistinguishable from a baby sponge. Hickey likes to talk about science, and to parse things in absolutes. Well, that’s the science, and those are the absolutes. Perhaps, as per Bob’s suggestion, he needs to spend less time on Noah’s Ark and more time grasping the distinction between genotypes and phenotypes. Especially if he wants anyone who does know science to take his ethical arguments on behalf of society seriously.

  13. Roger, there’s nothing like God, guns, and pictures of fetuses to keep voters from noticing the corruption in Pierre. Misdirection is the key to picking pockets.

  14. larry kurtz

    Exactly, Cory. Fred Deutsch is going to lie down on the barbed wire and let others step over him.

  15. Way to go, Angie! And isn’t it too bad that we even have to recognize that what she is saying is correct? In 2015?

    It still sad to continually see Mr Hickey’s comments that are so far off the map on these topics. (and yes, lawmakers do want to dictate pregnancy. Some would rather not have birth control accessible!) The state does NOT have an interest in protecting the most vulnerable. For anti-abortion folks, like yourself, that pass laws that violate women’s rights, hit the most vulnerable especially hard. You are in denial about this, Mr Hickey.

  16. Liberal culture of death… fantasy… Spencer, I’m afraid I have to turn those words around on you and accuse you of a conservative culture of control and a fantasy that you have the right to make decisions for my wife and daughter. You offer the dissonance, claiming to respect liberty and seek conservative government but advocating the servitude of women to your moral whims.

    Steve, legislators are trying to dictate pregnancy. They are trying to make a woman remain pregnant when she does not wish to be. As usual, analogies fail, because pregnancy is so uniquely personal and feminine, and because the level of control certain legislators try to exercise over women is generally unparalleled, but your dodge is like saying that if I move to Aberdeen and then the government does not allow me to travel for nine months, the government is not dictating my location.

    The family has not started until there is a baby outside the womb. It has not started until all members of the family can assume equal responsibility for the care of that born baby. The state has no interest in mandating and no right to mandate that a woman submit her body to the service of another organism, even one with the potential to become an autonomous citizen.

    The concept may not be comfortable. It may be more complicated than shouting “We Love Babies! More Babies!” But it is not dissonant or contradictory. It is a logical conclusion of respect for liberty and desire for limited government and individual moral responsibility.