Tim Johnson jumps into South Dakota abortion debate with both feet

I thought this was kind of unusual. According to the Argus Leader, U.S. Senator Tim Johnson is inserting himself into the HB 1215/Referred Measure 6 abortion debate by recording a message for the "No on 6" forces:
The campaign against a proposed law that would make most abortions illegal in South Dakota has gained a well-known politician as a spokesman against the measure.

U.S. Sen.Tim Johnson, D-S.D., has taped an automated telephone message that urges voters to reject the legislation.

South Dakota’s senior senator said the proposed ban on most abortions should be dumped because it contains no exceptions for women who have been victims of rape or incest.
Read it all here at Argusleader.com.

Aside from the fact that whether or not the measure contains exceptions is still up for debate (and debate, and debate), I don't recall it as typical for a US Senator to jump into a matter like this?

Why? South Dakotans are evenly divided on the issue, and by making a clear stand with one side he risks making the other side really, really mad come time for the next election. Lest he forget, the measure was originally introduced by members of his own party as well as Republicans.

That could cause him headaches in 2008. At least one of the two people I've spoken with who are looking at the race would potentially consider this an issue to debate and argue over. And in his previous races, Johnson has managed to avoid a major (and ugly) campaign battle over the abortion issue.

In 2008? Jumping in with both feet in 2006 might leave them a little dirty.


Haggs said…
The exemption issue is only up for debate because of lying pro-lifers. When this legislation was created, Roger Hunt and its other authors specifically pointed out that the ban has no exemptions for rape and incest victims. But then a poll comes out saying that people would vote for it if there were those exemptions, so suddenly the pro-life crowd is claiming the ban does have exemptions. There's only a debate on this because the pro-lifers realized they made a mistake and want to retroactively add non-existant exemptions into the ban.

As for Johnson, I don't think this will cost him many votes since most of the people supporting the ban probably didn't vote for him in the first place.
Anonymous said…
I think Haggs is right on this one.

Abortion may be a controversial issue. But HB1215 is less so. More and more people are moving toward the opinion that the law needs to be overturned.

Johnson has clearly staked out his position on 1215. And it's with the majority of South Dakotans. His potential opponent had better hope they aren't on the opposite side and those behind the legislation become active in opposing Johnson. It could end up being the kiss of death for that opponent.
Anonymous said…
What I can't understand is that politicians are continuously drawing lines that separate one class of people from another. Then they pass legislation that further perpetuates those differences. They accentuate the differences between people, rather than focusing on the ties that bind us together.

Rape is a tragedy, and it is a crime. The same is true of incest. The perpetrators should be locked up for a long, long time. However, there are people walking down the streets who were conceived in either rape or incest. Every time a politician or a layperson says "...except in cases of rape or incest..." they must feel terrible. Or mad. Or defeated. It's really no different from talking down about any other group of people. What if a person was to say, "I'm pro-life, but I think there should be an exception for Whites or Blacks or Hispanics or boys or girls or kids whose parents are fat....?" The list goes on and on.

And before you hastily fire back, think about this. What if your best friend was conceived in rape? How about incest? Could you look him or her in they eye and tell them that because of how they were "made" they are a little less important than everybody else? Every time you talk about how extreme 6 is, and that it should have had certain exceptions, that's exactly what you're saying.

When it comes time to vote, think of it as a chance to stop the killing of more than 820 South Dakota babies each year. AND over 800 of those babies are NOT conceived in rape or incest.

Regardless of the political rhetoric, a Yes vote is a vote for life. A no vote is for the status quo, and it ensures that ALL the killing will continue, including the 99% of children not conceived in rape.
johnnie w. said…
I find it amazing how you divide the world up so neatly--Democrat and Republican. Democrat and Republican. Democrat and ...

Johnson is hardly thinking "What's the South Dakota legislature's 'Democrat' mindset/position on this one..." Duh!

Because the issue is so evenly divided, he can't (or perhaps shouldn't) take a political stance?? Because it's a tough question? Is that what you're saying?? Maybe I'm confused.

Last year, Senator Johnson wrote me a letter which indicated he supported medical marijuana or, perhaps, he at least supports not criminalizing those persons who smoke dope for medicinal purposes. How many Democrats in the South Dakota State Legislature have supported Medical Marijuana in past votes in Pierre? None. How many Republicans in Pierre have stood up for those peoples' right to smoke marijuana with a DOCTOR'S recommendation? None.

How will Johnson's support of medical marijuana impact the voters in 2008? Will he actually have more support in 2008 because he support of medical marijuana is a rational and thoughtful idea, and which a majority of South Dakotans, if provided all the facts on this issue by November, will vote in favor of this fall.
Anonymous said…
Well, lookee there! Both haggs and chad are against the abortion ban. Surprise! PP, is this the first time they've weighed in on the liberal side of an issue?

Nope. I know haggs is against the marriage amendment. How about Chad?

Where are they on legalizing marijuana?

How about on taking away guns?

Probably right there with Johnson and all the other lefties.
Anonymous said…
....and it appears eddie has weighed in right on cue.

What about Bob? and kelsey, k, joan, newquist, et. al.?

Speaking of Bob, where has he been? Did he get jailed again?
Anonymous said…
No, you're both wrong! Pro-lifers did not make a mistake. And the word is exceptions, not exemptions. The only liars are the pro-aborts screaming that "women will die"! Any fool who gives it some thought will realize that a bill with exceptions for rape/incest, health, or anything else, becomes a meaningless bill, since anyone/everyone who wants an abortion bad enough will claim that exception. What pro-lifers are talking about are other "options" such as the "morning-after pill" for actual rape victims. If you really are pro-life and really want to end abortions you know this is an excellent bill. Besides, if anyone is really desperate enough they will still be able to drive to Mpls., Omaha, Fargo or where ever else, just like they do now.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous 11:58 - Since the rest of us use our names, why don't you crawl out from under your rock and use yours too?
And if believing that rape and incest victims and women with serious health problems should have access to rape within the state where they live and pay taxes makes me a "lefty," I am proud to assume the title. (What do you call all of those moderate Republicans who believe the same thing?)
Haggs said…
Exceptions? Hmm, I think I've been using the wrong word for months. Thanks for pointing that out.

If the anti-choice people are claiming there are other "options" then call them that. Don't go around calling them "execptions." It's dishonest.
Anonymous said…
Anon 11:59 - "if anyone is really desperate enough they will still be able to drive to Mpls., Omaha, Fargo or where ever else, just like they do now." In other words, you don't care if someone has an abortion as long as they don't do it in your state.
Let's assume that the woman who needs an abortion lives in South Dakota and pays property taxes here. So do you.
You can't become pregnant, but you can develop a kidney stone. So for the sake of argument, let's assume that you have a kidney stone.
You need to have treatment for that kidney stone, but the South Dakota legislature has passed a law that bans treating kidney stones in the state. Your only option is to drive to Mpls., Omaha, Fargo or where ever else to get the treatment that you need. Finding the money for gas and lodging will be difficult if not impossible, and there is the additional problem of getting time off from work for you and the person who will accompany you.
How are you going to feel about that? Don't say there is a difference because you have already implied that it is okay for women to go out of state for an abortion. That negates any moral argument on your part and puts both medical treatments on the same level.
How would you like being treated like a second class citizen? Not much, I would guess. Then why is it okay to treat women like that?
Anonymous said…

You must be connected to Planned Parenthood - they're always trying to pass abortion off as "health care." That is just as dishonest at the pro-1215 people saying there are exceptions for rape and incest.
Anonymous said…
The procedure is done by a doctor. That makes it health care in my book.
Re: Planned Parenthood - There's no connection. I don't even know where the clinics are located in the cities close to me.
At least you admit that HB1215 contains no exceptions for rape and incest. That's a start.
Anonymous said…
Hey Anon 2:11 - I just looked at what I wrote again. I didn't even refer to it as health care. I called it a medical treatment. I guess one couldn't call it that if it was a back alley abortion done by some butcher instead of a doctor. Is that your preference?
Anonymous said…
Saying a woman "needs an abortion" is like saying a man needs a swift kick to the mid-section.
Anonymous said…
There are men who need a swift kick to the mid-section, including those who don't care or are oblivious to what some women are forced to endure.
Maybe a kick lower down would be more appropriate. If well-placed, it might eliminate some of those problems.
Anonymous said…
PP, thought Thune came out against 1215 also, am I wrong? If he did, what does that mean for his re-election? Or does opposing 1215 just hurt dems?
Anonymous said…
If Roger Hunt and his group of extremists are so concerned about reducing the number of abortions, why wouldn't they have passed a bill that make exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother.

By including the three exceptions, the number of abortions would have gone from somewhere around 850 per year to something less then 50. Now that would be progress in reducing the number of abortions.

But no, they said no exceptions, almost assuring that it would be thrown out in the courts, or as it turns out, thrown out by the voters.

It appears that they are so blinded by the idea of stopping all abortions, they passed up the opportunity to stop over 90% of them.

Hunt and crew are more interested in glory for themselves than stopping the vast majority of abortions by allowing for exceptions.
Anonymous said…
To 8:04, as stated above, if those exceptions had been added, everyone wanting an abortion would simply state it was for one of those reasons (even tho over 90% are done for convenience) and they'd be able to conveniently abort a life. THAT is why those weren't made part of the bill.

And as for the argument comparing an abortion to a kidney stone, not even close. One involves a life, one involves a stone!

And as long as abortion is available in another state, it is simply that, available. Doesn't mean that we are in favor of the abortion, just that there is that option for a woman wanting an abortion. And if that makes it difficult, well, taking a life should be.
Anonymous said…
Nonnie, You missed the point of the argument. When the person stated that a desperate woman could go outside of the state for an abortion, he implied that was an option and therefore okay.
Had he not thought it was okay, he would not have mentioned it.
The comparison between treatment for a kidney stone and for an abortion was made merely to point out that people who pay taxes have a right to expect medical treatment within their own state instead of having to spend more money to go somewhere else to obtain it. (When a doctor does something in his role as a physician, it IS medical treatment.) It did not deal with the moral issue because the earlier remark implied that going out of state was an acceptable option for "desperate" women.

If you believe the garbage that women would claim to be raped in order to get an abortion, then it is obvious that you are going to believe whatever someone says that you believe bolsters your position.

The good news is that intelligent, well educated people who are in positions of authority and/or respect are speaking out against Referred 6.

HB1215 is going down.
Anonymous said…
Chad - "More and more people are moving toward the opinion that the law needs to be overturned."

Wake up Chad, it's time to get up from your nap.

Numbers are moving in favor of VoteYesForLife.

The more people understand the bill the more likely they are to vote for it. People just need to be educated on the bill and understand the provision in the bill to protect women who have been victims of rape and incest.

I'm willing to bet any amount of money that Johnson hasn't even read the bill and is just barfing up what planned parenthood paid him to say.

Senator Johnson, what does it feel like to be a puppet for the largest abortion provider in the US?
Anonymous said…
Leslie, I mean anon 9:44, your boy toy John Thune also opposes 1215. Face it babe, you're going to lose this one.
Anonymous said…

I see your point, but I disagree. I should maybe wait until after I sleep to post a comment. Here's a better explanation of what I was trying to say.

There are 2 basic types of abortions - elective and therapeutic. Elective would be in the case where no health problems with the mother existed, but she chooses to have the abortion (for whatever reason). Therapeutic would be an abortion to improve or safeguard the health (or life) of the mother when the pregnancy posed a serious threat.

Calling an elective abortion "health care" is the same as calling a rhinoplasty for someone who doesn't like a bump in their nose "health care." HC is a general term, but I think you can find obvious differences between elective and therapeutic abortions. To me, the therapeutic is health care, while the elective is something else -- It's not meant to care for the woman's health.
Anonymous said…
11:19 - Thank you for your explanation. However, I was not the first one to refer to it as health care. I responded to someone else while short of sleep, thinking that I did say that. Then, after thinking about it, I looked again and realized the term I used was medical treatment.
If a medical doctor uses his or her professional skills to perform any type of procedure, I believe it is safe to say that is medical treatment.
Anonymous said…
Thune ran as an anti-abortion candidate during three successful campaigns for the U.S. House. He also promoted that issue during his near-miss challenge of Johnson in 2002 and, more prominently, in his successful campaign against Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle in 2004. But Thune said Wednesday that any abortion ban should include exceptions for rape and incest.

"I support a ban, with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother," he said.
Rapid City Journal,9/27/2006
Anonymous said…
The reason you can't include the exceptions in the bill is for the same reason that Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania over the issue.

When you pass a law with these types of exceptions it won't pass the due process logic of even the most conservative judge.

The liberal judges won't support it anyway, because they rule on what they think the law should be not what the law is. The conservative judges who actually abide by the law can't support a bill with exceptions because the bill must apply to everyone (i.e. every child in the womb) not just the ones that are excepted out.

In the end at least we have all the pro-aborts on the record now as wanting to support a bill with exceptions. I guarantee you that if the legislature passed a bill with exceptions most of the same people hollering about this bill would be at the courthouse the next day.

The PP crowd is against any restriction on the right to abort a child. So I hope that after this ruckus that Jan Nicolay and Kate Looby and Tim Johnson are the first to support a bill with exceptions and that they will decry any and all efforts to opposed such a measure in the courts.
Anonymous said…
Anon 1:52 pm - You need to learn to differentiate between opinions and facts.
Regarding your statements about a PP lawsuit in Pennsylvania and conservative judges, please state your sources - and only articles from valid news sources or professional journals count.
Rhetoric from anti-abortion groups cannot be taken seriously since their statements are often self-serving to help them meet their agenda.
Who has determined that liberal judges rule on what they think the law should be instead of what it is? Judges interpret laws, and all of their interpretations are subjective. So anyone's claim that liberal judges incorrectly interpret the law is only that person's opinion and nothing more.
All of your other statements also are pure conjecture and not proven facts. There is a difference.
Anonymous said…
As the one who first referred to going out of state for an abortion, I absolutely do not approve of it, condone it ,or suggest it. I was simply stating a fact. No woman "needs" an abortion, unless her life is in danger, which is an EXTREMELY rare occurance. Saying a woman "needs" an abortion is like saying a man "needs" a hair transplant. It's purely for convenience. If Thune truly said he is opposed to "6", he has lost all future support from me.
Anonymous said…
12:11 pm - So far Sens. Johnson and Thune have come out against HB1215, the obstetricians and gynecologists in the state have come out against it, Gordon Garnos, a well known Watertown conservative and retired newspaper editor is opposing it, and President Bush has said before that he believes there should be exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

If the bill is so great, how come all of these people oppose it?
Anonymous said…
12:49 Thune made clear that he was talking about his position in regards to federal legislation not state.

He also said this a state issue not a federal one.

Thune is also taking the politically safe route on this one. It doesn't mean that he won't vote for it, but he certainly is chickenshit when it comes to this type of stuff.

So much for Johnson using that old line about not commenting on state issues anymore. He has used that line to duck having to comment on state issues now he won't be able to do so with crediblity.

I have said this before, that this issue has put people on the record and in the future they are going to held to that position. And while 1215 may go down, what about when the bill to outlaw abortion with the exceptions comes to the floor? Will Johnson and Looby and Nicolay and Plnd. PH be there supporting it. hell no.

As to the reader wanting sources for that dude's post go google it yourself lady. This website is not the bar exam or legal brief its place to bs and say what you want. Take your conjecture language and smoke it. You are probably wound so tight you could turn coal into diamonds.
Anonymous said…
Anon 3:50:

It's presumed that when writing or speaking about abortion that we can an informed discussion. This also implies a certain level of intelligence and education. Both of which you didn't come with to this debate. If you had you would know that the PA case is Planned Parenthood v. Casey. 505 US 833 1992. And while this cite is not a journal or a respected article it is a Supreme Court decision. It's the decision in which the due process analysis which I speak of was laid out like a road map. I encourage you to read it.

Now about conservative judges. If you are making the implied claim that conservative judges will allow a bill like 1215 to pass due process analysis you are smoking crack or you don't what the hell you are talking about. Most constitutionalists i.e. conservatives on the Supreme Court will not allow a law that selectively chooses only select lives to spared to pass constitutional muster.

Go read the pre and post Lochner decisions regarding substantive due process analysis. Go google it because I don't have time to educate you on 50 years of SDP analysis.

And in regards to liberal judges. There is a reason why Planned Parenthood always files its cases before Judge Schrier in Rapid City and never in any other federal court in Sioux falls, including Piersol, because Shrier is a sure bet for striking down abortion laws. It's like asking if the sun will rise. It's common knowledge in the SD bar that you go to Schrier with these types of issues.

To totally ignore the liberal/conservative bent of a judge is to deny your own logic that a judge's decision is indeed subjective. What is not subjective is the degree to which a judge will distance him/herself from precedent and circuit court rulings.

Further, many lawyers based on my informal discussions feel that while Schrier will strike it down if it passes the 8th circuit would uphold 1215 because the bill requires a traditional and formulary analysis of due process law which even the most liberal and anti-constitutional judge would be strained to not follow.

Remember the case of Bush v. Gore in the Supreme Court? That was a due process analysis case. The liberals were up in arms because the Justices decided to actually use the liberals definition of due process analysis. It was great! Liberals thought that they had won that case because the "conservative" court would follow through on its "pledge" to analyze the case how they wanted to. Instead the justices simply applied heretofore established due process analyses thereby allowing Bush to win the case. Simply put, liberals were outraged because the court refused to decide the issue in a "conservative" manner and instead used the liberal orthodoxy of due process case law against them i.e. Gore.
Anonymous said…
Anon 1:52 - Anyone can post any BS they want to on here - and they obviously do. If you like reading fiction that is passed off as fact, fine, but you won't learn anything from it.
Actually, I'm not wound tight at all. I loosen up by reading these blogs. Some of it is funny stuff.
(Conjecture means speculation.)
Anonymous said…
Anon 9:49 PM - No, I don't know much about those things, but I don't learn anything from someone who doesn't back up their statements. At least you cite some references that adds credibility to what you are saying.

Are you always this cranky, or has Sen. Thune's refusal to endorse HB1215 made you this way?
Anonymous said…
Being cranky makes me a killer in court. No crankiness usually means no victory for my clients.

Thune and his support is irrelevant to me. What he does doesn't put food on my table. The guy shot himself in the foot with his most recent statements.
Anonymous said…
I am glad that someone is sticking up for women. This is the most ridiculous piece of legislation and it will go down down down. It really says something when even the "rightest high ranking republicans" want to distance themselves from this archaic bill. Unless you yourself have been raped you do not realize the pain that a woman goes through. Let women decide and they may decide to keep the pregnancy if emotionally they can handle it. Don't force this issue.
Anonymous said…
Tim, I hope your staff gives you this. Thank you for jumping into this debate.

You always danced around this issue, but now it is clear. YOU ARE FOR ABORTION!

Timmy how are you going to win this time? You will have to find another way to switch ballots after dark. We won't allow it twice. Ask your buddy Tommy, he even tried to go to court to keep his "right" to switch votes after dark.

The margin pro lifers will not be with you this time. And hunters will be informed of your voting against us.

Enjoy your next two years. I don't think Tommy will be riding in on his white horse this time. He is having too much fun running with his fellow LIBERALS.
Anonymous said…
Anon 2:38 - Would you prefer that Sen. Johnson state that, while he is opposed to Referred Measure 6, he will vote for it?

How many of you plan to stand by Sen. Thune while he casts his vote to see which way he sways when the time comes?
Anonymous said…
Anon 2:38 - Is the abortion issue the only thing that matters to you? What about education, oil prices, the war, the economy, or taxes? Or do you care that our national debt keeps accelerating at a record pace because of the war and tax breaks for the rich? Who do you think is going to pay all of that back - and how are they going to pay it back?

Or are you saying nothing else matters as long as your representatives oppose abortion?
You can't even be certain where Sen. Thune stands on HB1215 as he sways back and forth.

The fact that guys like you can vote is scary.

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