Wednesday, March 01, 2006

...And...We're Back! 

Not sure what Guthrie's excuse is, besides being a worthless sack of shit, but I took the NY bar exam last week and was in Montana over the weekend.

Basically, taking a second bar exam is just about as unpleasant as you'd expect, but, since you know what to expect, it's not nearly as unpleasant as taking that first exam. I was much more of a stress case in Chicago in the Summer of 2003 than I was in New York this past February. Regardless, I am very, very glad it is over with. Now I just have to wait until May to learn if I passed.

So, that was last Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday my girlfriend and I flew out to Big Sky, Montana for three nights. We skiied Friday and Sunday, and on Saturday we did a snowmobile tour in Yellowstone. Pretty much the whole trip was amazing, and I'll post some pictures if I find some that are decent. I think winter is the time to go to Yellowstone--the juxtaposition of the snow and cold air against the thermal springs and steam is breathtaking, and in the summer you don't get that nearly as much b/c of the warmer air. Plus, having a group of bison walk 3 feet away from your sled is very cool, too.

As for the skiing--wow, the best I've ever had. Friday afternoon I was skiing in powder that, at worst, was knee-deep and at best was chest-deep. For those of you who know the mountain, chest-deep in the gullies is about as cool as it sounds. The other great skiing news is that my girlfriend, in a near-miraculous show of improved skill and improved confidence, skiied Liberty Bowl off the Tram (skiing off the tram ain't no joke, boys and girls) twice. Well, I won't bore you with any additional details...let's get to blogging proper.

So, some of you may have seen that South Dakota has once again passed an unconstitutional abortion ban. The only thing is that this time, they think the law might give the Supreme Court the chance to use it to overturn Roe. For my money, the best blogging on this topic, and abortion rights in general, is at Lawyers, Guns and Money, specifically this post. Read it. In that post, Scott Lemieux takes issue with the oft-seen "progressive" argument that "that because I believe that most people advocating other restrictions are arguing in bad faith doesn't mean that I can't see the point in certain restrictions." He says that you cannot just debate these issues in the abstract, and he's right. He points out that any progressive analysis must deal with the practical effects of these regulations, which amount to a de facto abortion ban for non-urban, non-affluent women. PZ Myers lays this out in a narrative:
We’re all Dakotans

Just a thought…but you know, my town isn’t far from the South Dakota border, and there really isn’t that much difference between my neighborhood and that of some small South Dakota town 50 miles away. I think the piggish prigs who are pushing the legislation to criminalize abortion are contemptible, but does that mean we people of the progressive state of Minnesota are any better? That got me wondering—I’m a fully entitled, blissfully unaware, card-carrying member of the Patriarchy, after all, so I’ve never had to consider what it would be like to be female, 17, and worried that I might be pregnant.

I tried to imagine it.

I can get a pregnancy test kit from the Pamida down the road. I’d feel a bit weird about it, though: this is a small town. We know everyone and they know us, and those are high school and college kids working the cash registers there. Everyone is going to know about it if I buy one…I suppose I could try shoplifting it, but jeez, if I got caught shoplifting a pregnancy test, I might as well just die.

If I somehow got the test and it were positive, the next step would be difficult. There is a sign on the edge of town here that purports to be helpful— it says “Pregnant? Need advice?” with a phone number on it—but it’s put up by some of the local religious wackos, and all they’ll do is tell you to keep the baby and slap you upside the head with a Bible, so they certainly aren’t to be trusted.

The phone book isn’t much help. I wouldn’t trust the Morris hospital either…locals again, and they have a reputation for being very conservative. They don’t do abortions anyway. The
nearest Planned Parenthood clinic is 45 minutes away, they don’t do abortions either, but they do provide emergency contraception…except that they’re only open on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. WTF? Do a lot of people get knocked up on Monday and Tuesday nights or something?

As it turns out, the only abortion providers in Minnesota are all in Minneapolis. Three hours away, by car; to get there by bus requires a shuttle to Alexandria, then taking Greyhound the rest of the way. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap. Once there, though, there’s more. Minnesota has a parental notification law, so at least one parent has to come along, and the other has to send along a notarized letter granting permission. Then there is a state-mandated 24 hour waiting period: at the first appointment, they have to counsel the person against getting an abortion, and can only do the procedure the following day…as if a young lady who has had to struggle that much just to get there hasn’t already thought things through thoroughly. Spending a night in the Big City is going to cost.

Did I mention that the procedure itself is going to cost $500+?

I’m beginning to realize that the only young women who will be able to get abortions in my part of the state are the ones with a supportive family, or who are old enough and prosperous enough that they can afford the rigamarole and hassle. The ones who are going to be most distressed by a pregnancy, who are least able to cope with it, are the ones who are going to be excluded.

I’m feeling a bit ashamed of being a male and not having thought much about this before. That little Y chromosome does confer some privilege in this regard, and it seems petty and cruel that we should so unthinkingly impose a greater pain on those who have already had more than their share.

Right now, a few scrofulous boars in South Dakota have raised their snouts and squealed loudly, asserting their selfish rule over women, and it’s easy to condemn them. But there are only about 750,000 South Dakotans, so most of us don’t live there anyway; it seems to me that maybe what we ought to be doing is also looking to our own states’ laws on abortion. Our pigs might be a little more muted, but they’ve been busy for years, planting a lot of little restrictions that add up to a substantial hurdle.
"I think the stars are aligned," said House Speaker Matthew Michels, a Republican. "Simply put, now is the time."
Maybe he’s right. Maybe now is the time to wake up and do something about this everywhere, not just South Dakota.
Well, there you are.
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