Cheesehead in Paradise
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Because of Ida
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I regularly get e-mail from a very well-known family planning agency. I’ve been on their mailing list in one form or another—first snail mail, now electronic—for the better part of nineteen years, ever since I walked in to an affiliate clinic for a job interview. I was hired on the spot; the next day I was working to become part of the solution for the problem of unintended, unwanted pregnancies. Let me go on the record: Not every pregnancy that is unintended is unwanted. Some women get this very surprising news, and it turns out to be a blessing they could never have imagined. I’ve seen it happen with my very own eyes.

But sometimes it does not. In our broken, imperfect world sometimes women become pregnant under the most dire, dangerous, or devastating of circumstances. My own paternal grandmother was one of those women. Sixty-five years ago, thirty years old and pregnant for at least the twelfth time, faced with no other choices, and fueled by the continuous cycle of pregnancy, still birth, depression, pregnancy, birth, depression, and abuse she suffered at the hands of my father’s father, she did the only thing she could do to stop the cycle: she poisoned my grandfather, threw her youngest child down the privy, then killed herself. My eleven-year-old father was the witness to these events. It is a story he told no other person (except my mother), for thirty-nine years.

It is in her memory that I did the work that I did for almost ten years, that no other woman should suffer what she suffered, that no other young boy should see his world destroyed, and that no other young woman should have to see her grown daddy shamed, shaking, and racked with sobs as he told her the truth about their family at last.

It is because of Ida, and other women like her—women I will never know, and the thousands of women I did get to know in my work—that I wrote a letter to the Governor of South Dakota a couple of weeks ago.

This is an excerpt, which I previously posted to Songbird at Set Free:

"Alas, we will not be traveling to your great state this Spring. In fact, we will in all likelihood never see your state. You see, one of my children is my daughter. I do not feel that women, whether young or old, are valued in South Dakota. Your callous disregard for the well being of women caught in the trap of unintended, life-altering, possibly life-threatening pregnancies leaves us to wonder if women are even welcome in your state. At the very least, the abortion policies of your state demonstrate a mistrust of the ability of a woman to make a decision with the aid of her physician and trusting in her God.

Unfortunately for the people and establishments in your great state who depend heavily on tourism dollars, ours will be spent elsewhere, in a state that is friendlier to women.

I am truly sorry that the short-sightedness of the South Dakota state Legislature and its Governor will negatively impact its citizenry in this way."

I requested a reply. None has arrived yet.

To contact Governor Rounds yourself, click here.

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