Over the next week, pro-choice activists across the United States will hold potluck fundraisers to fight South Dakota's draconian abortion bill. The legislation, HB-1215, was signed into law last March by Governor Mike Rounds to the delight of the anti-choice movement, and calls for a near-complete ban on abortions with no exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or for the health of the mother.
The law is not designed to minimize abortions (there are fewer than 1,000 abortions per year in South Dakota). Rather, the real aim is to ignite a nationwide effort to challenge Roe v. Wade and advancean ideological agenda that includes limiting access to emergency contraception and abstinence-only sex education in public schools.
Fortunately, this heavy-handed approach has set off a backlash, and on May 30, some 38,416 signatures from South Dakota voters were delivered to the State Legislature asking for a vote on the matter. Now verified, these signatures put the future of the abortion ban up for grabs on November 8 when a statewide referendum ("Referred Law 6") will determine whether the law goes into effect.
A flood of rightwing money is flowing into the state for anti-choice advertising in support of Referred Law 6. That's where the potlucks come in. StandUpSD.com, a nationwide campaign to repeal South Dakota's abortion ban sponsored by Planned Parenthood (which operates the only two clinics in the state performing abortions), is using the dinners to raise counter-funds. There are currently more than 300 potluck events planned in 38 states — from Belfast, ME, to Davenport, IA, to Arcata, CA. The dinner themes range from turkey fries to luaus to pizza parties, with events being held in churches and synagogues, backyards, parks, homes and sororities.
Click here to see if there's a potluck near you, sign on to StandupSD's petition to Governor Rounds, volunteer to go to South Dakota to work with PP before the election, learn about and support South Dakota's progressive women candidates, and click here to tell everyone you know that you're joining the fight now before anti-choice extremists advance their cause to your state. According to a new Zogby report released on September 28, polls show the referendum in a statistical heat with opponents of the ban leading by a slim margin of 47 to 44 percent. So in this fight every little bit really does help.
By Peter Rothberg
Reprinted with permission from The Nation