The South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion released a 72-page report last week, following a walk-out of abortion-rights supporters and others who considered the final report one-sided and dogmatic. The report asserts that a fetus is a human from the moment of conception, and that abortion terminates a “unique, whole, living being,” according to the Associated Press. Furthermore, the report claims that no woman in South Dakota who chooses abortion under the current laws is adequately informed, and recommends that doctors question women about whether they were pressured to have an abortion, attempt to identify the father of a fetus and report illegal sexual activities, provide more information on the risks of abortion, and give women an ultrasound prior to performing any abortions. Finally, the report recommends an amendment to the state constitution giving fetuses the same protections as children.
Opponents of the report say that it does not accurately reflect the information that was gathered, and that amendments and alternative proposals, such as comprehensive sex education, were rejected without discussion. Chair Marty Allison voted against the report despite her anti-choice views, saying, “The final report was authored by a few people on the task force, and it is less than completely objective and factual. It is biased and opinionated,” reports Kaiser. State Senator Stan Adlenstein (R) also criticized the report, telling the Rapid City Journal that it was “dishonest, untruthful, dominated by a religious ideology that is not mine, disrespectful of scientific contributions and intolerant of disagreement.” The task force’s report will be available for the 2006 Legislature’s consideration and reference.