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GOP Heermann Shows How We Are All Pro-Choice and Pro-Life

Mellissa Heermann, Republican candidate for District 7 House from Brookings, appears to support a few more exceptions to South Dakota’s near-total abortion ban, but not exceptions for rape or incest:

Mellissa Heermann, District 7 House campaign FB page, comment section exchange with Tiffany Campbell, 2022.09.29.
Mellissa Heermann, District 7 House campaign FB page, comment section exchange with Tiffany Campbell, 2022.09.29.
Heermann will let women choose to abort their pregnancies to save their own lives, which South Dakota law currently permits, to save the life of one twin in the womb, which South Dakota law currently does not allow. Heermann also supports “medical interventions for ectopic, miscarriage, stillbirths, and nonviable pregnancies,” although that statement leaves unclear whether Heermann would allow women to choose to abort their pregnancies in those situations immediately and unconditionally, whether those conditions would have to be creating health problems for the women, or whether the women would have to wait, as South Dakota law currently requires, for those conditions to put the women in peril of imminent death.

Heermann cribs a bit of the vagueness deployed by her fellow Republican Legislative aspirant Amber Arlint from Sioux Falls, but she at least makes clear that she supports a slightly broader range of choice for pregnant women than South Dakota law currently allows. But notice how she rejects the description of her position as “pro-choice”: she insists she is “Pro-Life” (which Heermann must capitalize, as it is a holy term, guaranteeing her entry into Republican Heaven), and when her interlocutor, abortion-rights advocate Tiffany Campbell, points out that she is also pro-choice, Heermann terminates the argument immediately.

Heermann is avoiding what to her is an ugly truth of Republicans’ absolutist propaganda. Her answer, even with its persistent vagueness, reveals that one can “believe in the sanctity of human life and that it is precious and a gift” and still believe that there are times when a woman has the right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. She is literally both “pro-life” and “pro-choice”.

The same can be said of Campbell, of me, and of anyone else who supports women’s right to control their bodies and their pregnancies. We can believe that government should not intrude on this fundamental issue of bodily autonomy that uniquely affects (dare I say defines?) women. We can do so from a belief that life is a precious gift but that its sanctity lies in equal dignity, which requires, among other things, freedom from forced pregnancy. Force any woman who does not wish to be pregnant to remain pregnant, and you deny her equal dignity; you subordinate the sanctity of her life to a potentiality of cells inside her body. If you do not support choice, you do not really support life. Conversely, if you support life, you can tell the pregnant women who consult you, “Gee, the potentiality inside you will become a human life someday, so I hope you don’t choose to terminate your pregnancy,” yet simultaneously and with complete philosophical integrity believe that those pregnant women may rightfully decide for themselves, without government coercion, whether to carry their pregnancies to term.

We are all pro-life, which shows the speciousness, if not the utter uselessness, of using that term to distinguish politicians. As Mellissa Heermann shows, we are all also pro-choice, which means that term, too, doesn’t really illuminate, at least as a standalone label. We differ in the range of choice we want women to have… and the honesty with which we will address our simultaneous support for “life” and “choice”.


  1. Ben Cerwinske 2022-10-03 08:06

    To be fair to Ms. Heermann, I think she ended the discussion because Ms. Campbell was looking more for an arguement than a discussion that accuratey illuminated Heermann’s view.

    Your description is much more fair than the corner Campbell was trying to put her in.

  2. O 2022-10-03 08:26

    Even I think there is a rhetorical hair to be split over the terminology between “pro-choice” and the acknowledgment of the necessity of abortion at some medical crisis. I’m not sure recognition that an absolute draconian ban has flaws automatically swings one to the pro-choice column. Just as Ms. Campbell’s choice was to protect a life.

  3. bearcreekbat 2022-10-03 08:27

    Another disappointment. SD legislators are in a position to amend or repeal the mandatory life in prison, or authorized death sentence, for women, doctors and those that perpetrate a termination of pregnancy “without authority of law and with a premeditated design to effect the death of . . . an unborn child;. . . .” See e.g., SDCL 22-16-4 (1st degree murder); SDCL 22-6-1(1) (penalty for 1st degree murder); and SDCL 23A-27A-1(6) (required aggravating circumstance for imposing the death sentence).

    It is unfortunate that Campbell did not ask Heermann whether she “also supports . . . South Dakota law currently [authorizing the State] . . . to put the women in peril of imminent death” if they participate in the termination of a pregnancy “without authority of law.”

  4. Richard Schriever 2022-10-03 10:01

    Ben – Heerman is in her own corner. Campbell was simply pointing out that FACT to her.

  5. DaveFN 2022-10-03 10:15

    Both/and logic.

    aka “talking out of both sides of your mouth”

  6. Ben Cerwinske 2022-10-03 13:52

    Richard-While she may in fact be pro-choice in certain circumstances, she’s clearly not in others. For many (particularly the more vocal), pro-choice means additional circumstances (sometimes any circumstance). That’s clearly not Heermann’s stance. I understand most people fall somewhere between abortion rights in all circumstances and abortion rights in no circumstances. There’s an increasing demand for this and other issues for people to take a hard stance one way or another.

  7. O 2022-10-03 14:26

    If the circumstances were reversed, I don’t think Campbell’s specific circumstance warrants a wholistic pro-choice stance either. Saving the life of a twin is NOT the same as an argument for abortion on demand.

    Now it feels like the discussion is becoming: how far down the road of crappy circumstances does a woman need to find herself to warrant the state to sanction a woman’s choice to have an abortion?

  8. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-10-03 15:00

    Ben and O: Everybody PRO-CHOICE needs to quit waffling and bluntly declare when a woman wants an abortion she gets a safe, legal abortion.

  9. Neal 2022-10-03 15:39

    It goes both ways, Cory. If you agree that abortion should be restricted in certain instances (eg late term) then you’re pro life, right?

  10. larry kurtz 2022-10-03 16:06

    Semantics – YoSemites: let’s call abortions medical care and let Republicans have their cognitive dissonance.

  11. Ben Cerwinske 2022-10-03 16:16

    Bonnie-There’s plenty of liberal people out there who aren’t all-in on say a late-term abortion. Even if we were to agree that the state should never be involved in such a decision, it wouldn’t end the debate on whether it’s moral to do so.

    In South Dakota, if you want lawmakers and policies that move closer to your way of seeing things, you need a coalition. If someone is going to vote for your preferred candidate/policy, then welcome them where they are and have a constructive discussion later.

  12. O 2022-10-03 17:53

    Bonnie, agreed. That is why the moment on “the road of crappy circumstances” (I reference previously) I have settled on is the moment of the unwanted pregnancy. On past blogging, that has been my criticism of the GOP (well, of the powers that be): there is NEVER a focus on the issue of unwanted pregnancies and the prevention of those. I want to live in a place where the focus is on both the prevention of those unwanted pregnancies and also a rich social welfare support system that helps all expectant mothers make the transition to motherhood as supported as our wildest dreams make possible. The richest nation in history could achieve both. The “pro-life” advocates quickly devolve into the pro-wealth party when asked to reach into their pockets to support the health and well-being of the lives they look to save.

  13. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-10-03 18:44

    Thank you, O. I fiercely meant what I said (typed) and I shall die on that hill for a woman’s right to control her body. Ben can go pound sand.

  14. Ben Cerwinske 2022-10-03 19:07

    Bonnie-I’m not sure I understand. O and I seem to be on the same page…

  15. mike from iowa 2022-10-03 19:30

    For the record, Georgia sinate campaign magat, Herschel Walker, paid for a girlfriend’s abortion and she kept the receipts. He is running as a pro-life magat.

  16. All Mammal 2022-10-03 19:38

    What gives any person the idea they have a say? I don’t monitor your colonoscopies. I don’t have a checklist of personal questions pertaining to your diet and say no, you may not get a lap band surgery because you only had one apple in the last 7 weeks, so you aren’t trying hard enough to lose weight and are not worthy. Oh! But- if you have a sprained ankle and are allergic to bananas, then you may get the procedure. I don’t have a bunch of stooges gathered around deciding if you are excused to have a vasectomy or not. We might tell you you must try one more year for a fourth child before you are off the hook and allowed to choose to stop getting women pregnant. Hey, should we ban men from being allowed to use erectile dysfunction pills? Yes! But if they really need it and we hear testimony from their doctor and if he is married and his wife is worthy and they have certain insurance and we feel he isn’t a prick, maybe we could let that slide……. who gets to decide? Who’s business is it? Why would anyone want to butt in? Who cares? If you do- get a life and mind your own business. People, even women, have the right to privacy and don’t have to answer to no man. Let’s not go there, how about. And as for the late term argument, it doesn’t happen Unless it is imperative. ‘Abortion on demand’ is propaganda and, again, is nobody’s beeswax! Crimany. This debate is not moral. People denying women rights go to hell where Dr. Mengele awaits them with a spreader.

  17. Ryan 2022-10-03 21:28

    No metaphors or analogies about other healthcare issues are effective in this conversation because only pregnancy includes the issues of the life and autonomy of the mother and the life of the embryo or fetus. It’s not one person’s rights involved, it’s two. And that’s difficult. To be clear I support access to freely available abortion, but I think it’s disingenuous to conflate pregnancy with some unremarkable doctor visit. It’s becoming clear that most people in most places support the right to abortion in instances of rape, incest, medical necessity, etc… but the abortion for convenience issue is a divisive piece of this. To pretend otherwise is missing a big piece of the conversation.

  18. bearcreekbat 2022-10-04 00:43

    I suspect that the concept of “abortion for convenience” fails to give adequate weight to the actual physical and psychological difficulties experienced during a pregnancy and giving birth, as well as during an abortion.

    First, it would seem rare to find a female that would consider having an unwanted (or wanted for that matter) entity using the inside of her body, and then going through the process of vaginal birth or Cesarean Section to be merely “inconvenient.” Indeed, along with the severe pain of vaginal childbirth and the physical trauma from surgery when necessary, the discomfort of a pregnancy apparently starts early on according to the Mayo clinic.

    The most common early signs and symptoms of pregnancy might include:

    Tender, swollen breasts. . .
    Nausea with or without vomiting. Morning sickness, which can occur at any time of the day or night, . . . .
    Increased urination. . .
    Fatigue. Fatigue also ranks high among early symptoms of pregnancy. . .
    Moodiness. . .
    Mood swings . . .
    Bloating. . .
    Light spotting. . ..
    Cramping. . ..
    Constipation. . .
    Food aversions. . .
    Nasal congestion. . . .

    It seems unrealistic to suggest that a woman chooses to endure such an experience merely because she finds it to be “convenient,” and most certainly vice versa for a woman that declines that experience.

    Second, given what it known about the side effects of an abortion it seems unrealistic to suggest any woman experiencing the physical and psychological side effects of an abortion to be doing so for the mere “convenience” of the experience. The least likely traumatic means of inducing a miscarriage or abortion would be early on with oral medication. Here is how Planned Parenthood describes that experience:

    The abortion pill causes cramping and bleeding that can last several hours or more. . . .

    For most people, the cramping and bleeding usually starts 1-4 hours after taking the misoprostol. It’s normal to see large blood clots (up to the size of a lemon) or clumps of tissue when this is happening. It’s kind of like having a really heavy, crampy period, and the process is very similar to an early miscarriage. (If you don’t have any bleeding within 24 hours after taking the second medicine, misoprostol, call your nurse or doctor.)

    The cramping and bleeding can last for several hours. Most people finish passing the pregnancy tissue in 4-5 hours, but it may take longer. The cramping and bleeding slows down after the pregnancy tissue comes out. You may have cramping on and off for 1 or 2 more days.
    . . .

    It’s normal to have some bleeding and spotting for several weeks after your abortion. You can use pads, tampons, or a menstrual cup — whatever’s the most comfortable for you. But your nurse or doctor may recommend you use pads for the first few days after the abortion so you can track how much you’re bleeding. . . .

    How does a medication abortion feel?
    For most people, medication abortion feels like having an early miscarriage. You might have:

    lots of cramping and aches in your belly

    very heavy bleeding with large clots (If you don’t have any bleeding within 24 hours after taking the second medicine, misoprostol, call your nurse or doctor.)

    an upset stomach and vomiting (Your doctor or nurse may give you medicine to help with nausea.)




    mild fever (99-100° F) or chills on the day you take the misoprostol (If you have a fever after the day you take the misoprostol pills, call your doctor or health center right away.) . . . .,medicine%20to%20help%20with%20nausea.)

    Given these side effects, it seems highly unlikely that any woman really considers terminating a pregnancy particularly “convenient.” Perhaps the entire “issue” of “abortion for convenience” is really just another euphemism for the more direct goal of “slut shaming.”

  19. mike from iowa 2022-10-04 08:49

    OT again… Native American Activist/Actress Sacheen Littlefeather, known for her refusal to accept Marlon Brando’s Oscar at the 1973 Academy awards, has passed away.

  20. All Mammal 2022-10-04 18:04

    Can’t say for sure, but Bearcreekbat is most likely on point with his entire summation.

    Again, the point is is that its nobody’s business. Most people in most places should not have a say. It doesn’t matter what other people support or find divisive. Until a woman or girl and her doctor ask the government and nosy nancies for a vote on their own preference, outside opinions can be safely kept inside one’s own personal diary. General debates amongst adults concerning abortion are going to happen, however neither opinions or convictions are relevant in any situation but their own. There is no law requiring permission to extract a tooth, so there needn’t be a law concerning…oh, wait- it’s nobody’s biz. Period.

  21. mike from iowa 2022-10-04 18:27

    I guess magats have to fall back on argument that bringing the wrath of big guv down on the little woman’s head for reproductive rights is okay because women never used to have rights and men don’t get pregnant, so it is not guv coming down on men’s rights.

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