Libby Skarin of the ACLU urges South Dakotans to talk about abortion:
…if we want to make it clear that the majority of South Dakotans support abortion access, that’s got to change. With abortion access now left to the political process, those of us who care about reproductive freedom have to get engaged.
The fact that people feel like they can’t talk about abortion means the small number of anti-abortion activists get to define it however suits them best. We can’t let politicians and anti-abortion activists twist the narrative about this very common, very safe medical procedure any longer.
That means we have to start talking. We have to shake the stigma that abortion is bad, shameful or wrong. We have to change the narrative around abortion and reassure people that abortion is essential health care that people across our state need — regardless of their political affiliation, their income, their race or their faith.
And there’s no better time to start talking than now [Libby Skarin, “Let’s Talk About Abortion. A Simple Conversation Can Be a Catalyst for the Change That a Majority of South Dakotans Want,” South Dakota Standard, 2022.12.26].
Of course, if the aim of that conversation is to restore and protect reproductive freedom in South Dakota, why simply talk? Why not have that conversation while holding a petition to codify Roe v. Wade and collect signatures to put on the 2024 ballot a constitutional amendment to reëstablish South Dakota women’s right to control their pregnancies?
Ballot question committee Dakotans for Health has been leading that practical conversation over petitions at meetings and on chilly sidewalks since the beginning of November. Putting abortion on the 2024 ballot would invite every voter to a profoundly meaningful election-year conversation and give them a chance to decide the issue at the ballot box.
Everyone deserves the dignity and power to decide for themselves if, when, and how to have a child. Those who disagree are counting on our silence. We cannot afford to stay quiet when our rights and our freedoms are on the line, and we won’t [Skarin, 2022.12.26].
Strangely, in this essay, Skarin remains silent about the circulating petition and ballot measure that seeks to protect exactly that dignity and power. But I’m glad to correct that omission: yes, by all means, have that conversation about women’s fundamental rights and South Dakota’s oppression thereof, but take advantage of the opportunity to translate that conversation into practical action by signing, circulating, and promoting the petition to call a statewide vote on the right to abortion.