Bill Napoli responds to the controversy about his comments on Abortion

It's probably an understatement that Bill Napoli has takes some crap for his comments about abortion. In state, out of state. He even made Cruel Site of the day at for Monday March 13. Bill thinks a clarification is in order, so by gosh, the SDWC is as good a soapbox as any to respond to the criticism. Without further ado:
Some friends have urged me not to write this article. They claim it could be political suicide.

I realize my comments will be dissected and distorted once again by those on the other side. But, I feel it is necessary and important to tell you about my 45 minute interview with the Lehrer NewsHour. I went into this interview knowing that the outcome might be brutal, yet I did not feel I should be afraid to discuss these issues.

My comments about “simple rape” outraged people who told us in no uncertain terms, “There is no simple rape; all rapes are vicious and horrible”.

With all due respect, South Dakota has a clear definition difference between non-violent consensual sexual contact (Statutory Rape) and violent rape.

Statutory Rape (SDCL 22-22-7) is consensual sex between an 18-year-old with a girlfriend or boyfriend of 16, and is commonly referred to as statutory rape. My words “simple rape” is an example of this non-violent rape. Statutory rape is prosecutable by state law; it is not a violent rape. Definitions vary from state to state. Louisiana, for example, does have a definition for “Simple Rape.”

Yes, Forcible Rape is a horrible act of violence, one of the worst crimes committed against another person. Violent rape must be prosecuted to the fullest degree of the law.

My Wild West comments seemed to confuse some of you as to where I was going with this statement. I grew up in a time when society didn’t tolerate a man impregnating a woman, and then not taking responsibility for the child and the mother. I did not say force a violently raped woman to marry her rapist. Some people really stretched on that one.

It is not society’s responsibility to raise the children of fathers who refuse to support them or their mothers. I don’t want to go back to the days of grandpa holding a gun at a wedding. However, I do believe we must do all we can to integrate morals, integrity and especially responsibility into our society. This is the basic fabric required for a civil society.

Even if it’s a difficult situation, it‘s the responsibility of both a man and woman who conceive a child in a relationship, (not violent rape) that they must deal with it. Killing the child is not an option. No one ever said life would be easy.

My father, an elder man by the time I was a teenager, gave me advice I’ve given to young people I’ve come to know. “Never have sex with someone you wouldn’t want to marry.” I know its cliché, and old fashioned, but it’s true. Casual sex resulting in a pregnancy, resulting in aborting a baby is wrong.

95% of the 814 abortions in South Dakota last year weren’t for rape, or incest, but mainly for ridding someone of an unwanted baby. Getting an abortion because of poverty is a popular yet tragic excuse. How many famous people were born into extreme poverty, yet became role models for young people or made a vital contribution to the world? There are dozens of groups who will help a pregnant mother or parents through this difficult time with counseling, support, money, and let’s not forget adoption. We are a very giving and caring nation.

Finally, my Religious Virgin statement. Molly Ivins, amazingly, got part of it right. The statement I made was just ONE example, not the ONLY example. During the interview, Fred de Sam Lazaro asked me for a scenario. I said, “Worst Case?” He said, “Yes.” My description was absolutely the worst case scenario I could think of that could happen to an innocent woman so traumatized both physically and psychologically by her attacker that she should possibly consider having an abortion, which could save her life. There are other examples to consider for an abortion to save a woman’s life. But, I was only asked for one.

I think many were so upset about the passage of this bill, they lashed out, and I was an easy target. Many of you told me my comments were too brutal. Everything about abortion is brutal.
I voted for HB1215, for two reasons. First, if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, we will get our constitutional rights back as a Sovereign State to decide our own abortion issues in South Dakota. Second, to stop abortions performed for convenience. Just as an aside, I did vote for the amendment to put this issue on the ballot to allow South Dakotans to vote on HB1215.

What‘s sad is, the issue of abortion is so emotionally charged it’s difficult to have a rational discussion about it without threats and intimidation. We must come to some common ground about abortion. It’s out there; we just need to find it.

Senator Bill Napoli
6180 S. Hwy. 79
Rapid City, S.D. 57702


Bob Ellis said…
Thanks for the clarification, Bill, and thanks PP for posting it.
Anonymous said…
Atta Boy,Bill! Right on! Keep telling it like it is!
Anonymous said…
Alice "the fake" McCoy has no chance.
Anonymous said…
Apparently, this man is more than a sound bite. This is the most cogent statement I've seen yet in this morass!
PP said…
Just a note in case anyone notices I've dumped to stupid article on Lawyers.

It's off topic and has nothing to do with the post.
Right Rancher said…
Way to go Bill!! We've heard that Adelstein is bankrolling the "Not So Real" McCoy. Here's wishing they both lose the next election.
Bob Newland said…
I understand that Napoli and others really believe that intentionally expelling an unwanted mass of cellular growth from one’s womb is the same thing as killing a person. Given that, I expect them to do what they can to reduce the incidence of abortion.

Their center of gravity for justifying an inexcusably intrusive law is their political assertion that “life begins at conception”, i.e., at the moment the sperm kisses the ovum. This I equate with the political assertion that “marijuana has no medical use”. That is, both assertions are based on political/religious doctrine, and have little to do with actuality. Both assertions have led to unimaginable damage to individuals and to all of us collectively.

However, none of these arguments is going to sway anyone who has already formed an opinion, which is everyone who has a chance to vote on the matter.

I’m fascinated by the inconsistencies within the various philosophies of the gang that railroaded HB1215 onto the tracks of our lives. Napoli made a floor speech saying that the opponents to 1215 would still be opposed even if it allowed for exceptions to guard the mother’s health, so there was no use to include those exceptions. In his very first public statement after passage of the bill, to a national audience, he tried to contort the law to include an exception for the mother’s health.

If abortion is murder, then there can be NO morally permissible exception to prohibition of abortion. Not even to save the mother’s life. Unless at that point one suggests that the potential child in the womb is an unlawful intruder to be defended against. But then that exception would have to hold true in all cases where the owner of the womb says she wants to rid her womb of an intruder.

I subscribe to the philosophy that says that we each own our own bodies, and have sovereignty to determine, to whatever extent we choose and to whatever extent we have control, what happens inside our bodies. This is consistent with Republican political philosophy, although few Republicans of prominence actually practice Republican philosophy.

Bill Napoli and I have known each other for maybe 20 years. I repeatedly lobbied him unsuccessfully to support medical cannabis and industrial hemp. Before that, I sold advertising to him. I once interviewed him for a magazine I was publishing (just one more money-losing venture, at the practice of which I am a pro).

We have run into each other many times at many places during those 20 years, naturally, because if you’re involved in politics at all in So. Dak., you meet the players.

I’ve always liked Bill’s irreverence towards Republican ideals-of-the-moment. Once, when I was running for office as a Repub., he advised me not to “go around saying the Republicans don’t have any principles”, which seemed odd to me given that I hadn’t really considered that as a campaign strategy.

I asked him what Republican principles were, and he replied, “They don’t have any.” I understood that was his idea of a joke, although we both knew there was enough truth in it to make it funny.

Napoli’s willingness to characterize Janklow as a bully publicly while Janklow was governor is worth mentioning. Several Republican legislators told me privately (while they fawned over him in his presence and to the press) how much they despised Janklow, whose arrogance eventually led to one of what has now become a series of events resulting in what I think is an unfortunate perception of South Dakota in the eyes of people who’ve been no closer to the state than a Molly Ivins column.

Notice I said “unfortunate” perception, not “inaccurate”. I’m a good deal surer of the former characterization.

Were we friends? Well, we never discussed intimate details of our lives with each other. On the other hand, we were able to hold civil conversations. Actually, it’s pretty damned hard to know whether a sitting legislator is really a “friend” or not. I mean, how can you disagree with a deeply-held conviction of a sitting legislator who is also a “friend” – when that opinion is going to get translated into a law you believe is harmful to all of us -- without stuffing your own opinion. If you’re going to be friends with a legislator, you’d better be sure you and he have a similar consistent set of principles, at least those that lend themselves to reflection in law.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill Napoli called me and told me he thought my “virgin” parody cartoon was a cheap shot, and that he had defended me to others who had bad-mouthed me in the past, and that he would probably no longer do that (“those days are over”).
(see “Napoli to NewsHour: HB1215 could allow rape or incest exception” at

The conversation was civil. Napoli said that he’d once been told, “You’re not gonna stop until you’ve got the whole world pissed off at you.” He said that, since the Newshour episode, “it looks like I’ve done that.”

I agreed with him that the cartoon was a cheap shot. I also told him that when he says a dumb-ass thing on national television, he should expect to get called on it.

He repeated that it was not fair that people picked up solely on what was only one example (sodomized religious virgin), and make it look like that’s the only example he could name. He said, “If a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, then we should allow an abortion.”

I mentioned that pregnancy itself is a life-threatening condition. He said, “I didn’t call to talk about the abortion bill.” We soon said our good-byes. But not before Napoli said that he didn’t want abortion to be a form of birth control, “when these women can’t keep their legs shut and then make me pay for the consequences.”

“How do they make you pay for it?” I asked. “Government-funded abortions,” he said.

Well, I oppose gummint-funded abortions, for the same reason I oppose all socialized medicine (too many Napolis and Hunts and Greenfields in elected offices, using the public trough to effect their own agendae). But I was under the impression that abortions were exempted from receiving state or federal funds. Am I wrong?

Napoli is no doubt feeling the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune of becoming a celebe faux pas. I can identify. Try getting a DUI while you’re running for governor. (Brought me from 2.1% in the polls to 1.7% overnight)

But if you’re going to take the position that it’s okay for you to make life-and-death decisions that conflict with those arrived at between me and my doctor, then expect non-stop criticism. And if you’re gonna say dumb-ass things on national television, expect to have your carcass picked bare by vultures and parodists.

I still support Amendment D.
Ziggs said…
Napoli's definition of "simple rape" is crafty, but disingenuous. For the sake of his arguement he conveniently defines statutory rape as "consensual sex between an 18-year-old with a girlfriend or boyfriend of 16" so it sounds like it only refers to horny teens with a couple of unremarkable years difference in age.

My daughter was barely 14 when she was raped in such a manner by a 44 year-old man. He didn't have to use violence - he used coercion, manipulation, and an insidious perversion of her trust and naiveté. The repercussions for my child have not been "simple." They were and continue to be horrible and vicious. This criminal did violence to my daughter, and to sluff it off as "simple" is offensive in the extreme.

And to add insult to injury Napoli thinks my child should have to suffer a pregnancy conceived of this horrendous act? And his appalling answer to consigning an innocent like my baby girl to that torture is "(shrug) life isn't easy."

I'm a man and a Christian. I never had much use for the crap from pro-choicers and their feminist ilk. But I'm finding I have even less use for the compassionless crap that's now coming from pro-lifers and their Napoli-onic mouthpieces.
Senator Napoli said…
I apologize, my schedule keeps me very busy, and so I do not participate in blog sites very often. And the only one I have come across so far that is not a cess pool of hate is The War College.
I will say it ONE MORE TIME:
I have clarified my position on the Leher Hour interview. If they would have aired the entire 45 minute interview, I would not have had to say another word. But, of course they (Leher Hour) didn't.
ONE MORE TIME: SOUTH DAKOTA CODIFIED LAW 22-22-7: SEXUAL CONTACT WITH CHILD UNDER 16: "consensual sex between an 18-year-old with a girlfriend or boyfriend of 16"
There can be no more than a 3 year age difference. This consensual sex is considered a simple rape. Also referred to as (Statutory Rape). There is no violence involved, it is consensual.
To Ziggs: What happened to your daughter is tragic and I am heartfully sorry. A 44 year old having any sexual contact with a 14 year old is a class 3 felony,
And is considered a violent rape. Obviously many people did not know the difference between these state laws.
There was nothing disingenuous or crafty about my statements. This is the law and the truth. You are welcome to look the law up.
For those who hate me to the point that you are unwilling to accept the truth for what it is, simply because I am saying it, are the people I have compassion for.
To spend your life hating someone so much you are unable to accept the truth must be horrible. I have nothing personal against pro-abortion people, my skeptics, or those who even hate me. Life is too short for me to waste that kind of time.
Just to clarify one more time: I support HB1215, and will continue to do so. If the petition drive succeeds and HB1215 is overturned I will respect that. I hope the other side will do the same if HB1215 is not overturned.
So, let's try to stick to the truth and the facts, and stop the name calling, it's childish.
I'm leaving for several weeks to work on Amendment D, so I will not be able to respond on the blog site. But, thank you for reading my comments.
Senator Napoli
Anonymous said…
Hey Newland. That cut and paste function sure is handy, isn't it? Where did I see that before???
Bob Newland said…
Napoli says, "If the petition drive succeeds and HB1215 is overturned I will respect that. I hope the other side will do the same if HB1215 is not overturned."

What is that supposed to mean? What will Bill respect? Whether or not 1215 is overturned, Napoli is not going to have an abortion. And those who oppose 1215 will continue to fight it, no matter what Bill hopes.
Anonymous said…
Hey Bob, You just proved Napoli right, you have no respect for anything. If life doesn't begin at conception, when does it begin? When you start smoking pot? How about a word limit on "comments"?
Billy said…
Dear Anon,

Assuming life begins at conception, then what of the ever popular form of masturbation? All of us were at one time sperm; shouldn't we prosocute those who waste potential life? At conception we are sperm and egg right? Those who would willfully spray their seed all over this earth accept in a woman's womb need to be punished. And don't evern get me started on the crime of menstration. That's for another day fellas...
Bob Newland said…
"For those who hate me to the point that you are unwilling to accept the truth for what it is are the people I have compassion for."

Bill seems to want to personalize folks' dislike of an unreasonable law into hatred of him personally. It's not about Napoli, it's about Napoli's inconsistent philosophy being translated into a law that condemns innocent people to either misery or prison.
Anonymous said…
its encouraging to see that some people still have sense of social justice about themselves and are willing to fight for the rights of women to remain full citizens of the united states and to own their own bodies.

the real issue here isn't fetuses. its the control of women's bodies. those who advocate against safe access to abortion are advocating against women. bill napoli hates women. and thats the bottom line.

thanks for your comments bob newland....i only hope there are more like us out there...
Anonymous said…
its encouraging to see that some people still have sense of social justice about themselves and are willing to fight for the rights of women to remain full citizens of the united states and to own their own bodies.

the real issue here isn't fetuses. its the control of women's bodies. those who advocate against safe access to abortion are advocating against women. bill napoli hates women. and thats the bottom line.

thanks for your comments bob newland....i only hope there are more like us out there...
Anonymous said…
Looking at some of these posts by Newland, billy and others, I'd say some of that "cess pool of hate" Bill was talking about has sloshed over to War College.

Newland's just gleeful he's found an issue with a constituency.

Anon 10:50-No, life won't begin for Newland until pot is Legalized.

Bill, unlike the obfuscation the other side uses, you are talking straight. you are doing what's right and we support you on this issue (my family that is).
Bob Newland said…
And a bushel basket of cowardice exhibited by those who post anonymously.
Anonymous said…
Senator Napoli says that statutory rape is simple rape and that there is no violence involved, it is consensual. He states Louisiana has defined "simple rape."

This is Louisiana's definition:

Simple rape is a rape committed when the anal, oral, or vaginal sexual intercourse is deemed to be without the lawful consent of a victim because it is committed under any one or more of the following circumstances:
1) When the victim is incapable of resisting or of understanding the nature of the act by reason of a stupor or abnormal condition of the mind produced by an intoxication agent or any cause, other than the administration by the offender of any narcotic or anesthetic agent or other controlled dangerous substance and the offender knew or should have know of the victim’s incapacity.
2) When the victim is incapable, through unsoundness of mind, whether temporary or permanent, of understanding the nature of the act and the offender knew or should have known of the victim’s incapacity.
3) When the female victim submits under the belief that the person committing the act is her husband and such belief is intentionally induced by an artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the offender.

"Simple rape" is not statutory rape. It is not consensual. It does great violence to the victim. Senator Napoli needs to drop his explanations and start apologizing.
Anonymous said…
Anon above. You conveniently missed the sentence "definitions vary from state to state." You also missed the capitol letters and quotation marks on "Simple Rape" meaning Louisiana has a definition under that heading. What the definition is is another subject. Simple rape isn't statuatory rape In Louisiana.

In South Dakota simple rape is the term used to describe statuatory rape or consentual sexual contact with a minor.

While you can be commended for attempting to do some research, you are a major flop. You missed the point entirely.

Honestly, you people have no communication skills whatsoever.
Anonymous said…
Senator Napoli sites one definition of “simple rape” in his defense of his comments.

Why did he cite a definition with which he did not agree?

Either he was making an intentionally misleading argument or he doesn’t know what he was talking about. Either way he should quit rationalizing and apologize.
Anonymous said…
Anon above, "There you go again."
Anonymous said…
Napoli should have said statutory rape not "simple rape" to begin with. Big mistake because this seemed like a Freudian slip of how insignificant Napoli feels rape is to mental health. You shouldn't categorize rape.

Bill's dismissal of statutory rape is still a mistake. There is no such thing as consensual sex under 18 due to brain, physical, and emotional development. Teenagers do not understand what sex is & the coercion toward sexual activity outside of marriage for a teenager can be emotionally devastating. I think 16 year-old girls are blamed for "choosing" to have sex, when really they are brainwashed and have neglectful parents. Pregnancies that result from coercion are not gifts. These girls should be allowed an abortion & their "boyfriends" should be considered sexual predators. Pregnancy should not be carried through to exert punishment on moral wrongs when children's moral development in incomplete.

Statutory rape is also not "simple" because the younger a girl is the less ready her body is to give birth. Therefore, the more access to a life-saving abortion a teenage girl needs compared to an older woman, yet older woman usually have children with birth defects (because once again nature believes she should not be giving birth past 50). Miscarriage rates are extremely high for 13 year-old girls. The hips are not fully widened. It's sad that all of these health facts are ignored by evangelicals. To speak to them in their own language. God doesn't want teenage girls to have babies before their ready. That's why he destroys fertilized eggs with miscarriages and creates birth defects in eggs of older women. Spontaneous abortion occurs in nature for a reason, yet often it kills the mother. Taking the ECP right after a rape is the best psychological & emotional way to prevent a forced pregnancy, but the obstacles that evangelicals have placed on abortion (financially and legally) makes late-term abortions the earliest a woman can get one.
Sara said…
Anon. above continues to miss the point entirely and has no knowlege of the "sex education" indoctrination foisted on our children in the public schools at the most inappropriately young ages.
Anonymous said…
Sara - I agree about anon missing the point & apparently having no clue. I remember 4th grade was my first experience in being "educated" on sex in school - at that age, most of us were simply mortified at what was being forced upon us, our immediate concern was who was going to be first in line to get the dodge ball at recess. By the end of the day, though, us girls were almost all in tears - freaking out in an overwhelming terror of what was to come.

Of course, that was waaaaay back in the late 70's when things at least made some sense and our parents actually made an effort to open the lines of communication, hugged us and reassured us that everything was going to be okay, yet had the common sense to also drive the issue of right and wrong into our brains before we ever even thought about having sex.

These days, you can pretty well sit in the parking lot of any middle school or in any chatroom and observe quite open & frank conversations of the "coolness" of their latest sexual encounter, the last party they went to and the awesome drugs they used or the large amounts of alcohol they consumed, etc. from the majority of the children -- many of which seem to have no sense that anything they are doing is dangerous or wrong. What's even more frightening is those who do have a sense of right and wrong have already figured out that it really doesn't matter if what they do is inappropriate because there are always easy alternatives available to help them out of any pinch they might get themselves into - on any level.

True story, I swear to God -- my family and I moved to a new community (rural) last fall and within two days of starting in his new school, my 16 year old son received a phone call from a female classmate while none of us were home. I walked through the door to hear her voice on the answering machine leaving a message for him that was so disgustingly graphic that I just freaked - I picked up the phone, asked her who in the world she thought she was calling my son and saying such filthy things to him!? [momentary silence on her end] I then told her to never call my home again or have any further contact with my son. Her response? "F*** you, b****, no one tells me what to do! I'll f*** your god-da** son if I f**'n want and not sh** you can do about it!" It was at that very moment that I finally, fully understood just how extreme the issue of peer pressure has become. No wonder my kids initially looked at me like I was some sort of alien being when I gave them the typical schpeel about how important it was to just say "no"! I had no clue what they were really up against.

On that note, anon -- I think you need to wake up and look around you, apparently you are living in some sort of fantasy world that suggests teenagers are either stupid or blind - neither of which is true. They are alot more mature and street-smart by the age of 14 today than most of us were by the age of 20!
PP said…
wow. Anon 11:12, I hope you ascertained the identity of the girls parents and played the tape for them.

You would hope someone would be embarrased for her.

Popular posts from this blog

Why should we be surprised?

That didn't take long