Sunday, April 16, 2006

Effects of the South Dakota Abortion Ban, and Leslee Unruh

The New York Times has a piece entitled, "Ripples from Law Banning Abortion Spread Through South Dakota." It's a rather quaint piece, discussing how friends and neighbors are finding themselves politely on different sides of a national debate, and didn't anticipate the reaction the SD ban would provoke across the country. Silent notes on petitions to overturn the ban reading "No abortions. I pray for you," a hairdresser wondering if clients will be offended by the petition, and "Many said they had been swamped with phone calls and e-mail messages (some supportive; others not) from relatives and friends in other states, and only then recognized the significance of what was happening." The article goes on to explain that South Dakota's upcoming elections may be more exciting than previously anticipated.

What the article does not do is talk about the effects of the ban on actual women who find themselves in the position of having an unplanned pregnancy. The only portion even touching on this issue is in the last paragraph:

"But a woman from Rapid City, on the state's western edge, drove alone for more than five hours in March to have an abortion at the Planned Parenthood clinic. The woman, who is in her 30's and said she feared for her safety if her name was used in this article, went to the clinic the very day Governor Rounds signed the ban.

Had the law been in effect, she said, she still would have found a way — legal or not — to have an abortion. 'Once that type of decision is made, it's going to be done,' she said. 'Are we really going to go that route?'"

One interesting bit of the article:
"Less than two miles from the Planned Parenthood clinic, between a taco shop and a carwash, another bland building houses Alpha Health Services, whose sign promises 'Free pregnancy tests, abortion information and S.T.D. testing.'

Once an abortion clinic, this is now home to the projects of Leslee J. Unruh, one of the most vocal leaders of the effort to ban abortion here. Ms. Unruh, who said she had had an abortion in the late 1970's and regretted it deeply, said 6,000 women came here each year for ultrasound tests, counseling and other assistance."

Of course, women stopping at the Alpha Health Services house are going to get one type of abortion message - don't do it. What the story doesn't mention (and the sign doesn't give away) is that Ms. Unruh is founder and president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse. The group has issued position statements as follows:

"The arousal response in individuals is the most easily trained response in the human body. Sexual self stimulation along with fantasy or pornography can actually train a person to bond to pictures, objects, ect., and may eventually leave the person unable to respond sexually to a real person....This practice should not be encouraged as a “safe” sexual practice."

"Friendship with another person of the same sex is healthy, but does not need sexual activity to validate its importance. Research shows the homosexual lifestyle is not a healthy alternative for males or females."

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Uh, this "position statement" only talks about how "The term STD is being changed by some to read to read as STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection).The term STI was chosen to play down the gravity of STDs. Abstinence Clearinghouse will continue to promote the use of the term Sexually Transmitted Disease."
Nothing there on prevention - good job, ladies.

Images in Educational Materials
"Neurochemical science affirms all imagery is real to the brain whether the setting is scientific, educational or pornographic. Diagrams of internal organs are acceptable, but images or pictures of external genitalia in any form, whether diseased or healthy, can be determined to the health of young men and women’s minds."
Should we all be prevented from ever seeing our own genitalia then?

Looks like women seeing the sign at Alpha Health are going to get an agenda along with their "information." I don't have a problem with Ms. Unruh and the Abstinence Clearinghouse doing whatever they want. I do have a problem with promising patients "information" while promoting an agenda that thinks even seeing a clinical photo of external anatomy is damaging. Other parts of the AC site talk about how premarital sex and cohabiting lead to "emotional scars, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, divorce and much more" without considering the difference between correlation and causation. That's not information - that's a a deliberate attempt to withhold information, which is never appropriate for healthcare providers. We can argue whether Planned Parenthood also has an agenda (hey, read that interview with the local PP's Mark Huffman), but they're fairly well know and don't tend to deliberately attempt to deceive potential clients on their roadside signage and withhold accurate information from patients.

For added insult, Unruh submitted a statement for the record to the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Human Resources for their 11/15/01 hearing on teen pregnancy prevention. Her statement included a cartoon, which equated contracpetives for pregnancy prevention and clean needles for HIV prevention to handing out free boxing gloves for domestic violence prevention. Very classy, Ms. Unruh.

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MeSH Tags: Abortion, Induced; Masturbation; Sex Education; Sexual Abstinence; South Dakota


Blogger Kat Coble said...

Neurochemical science affirms all imagery is real to the brain whether the setting is scientific, educational or pornographic.

That's the biggest DUH statement in the world. What she fails to qualify it with is the fact that Neurochemical Science (or, as most who are actually educated in the field call it, "Neuroscience") has proven that a combination of factors dictates how much this "real" imagery affects response. Nature, nurture, childhood nutrition and present diet all have a bearing on the brain's psychosexual response to visual stimuli.

She's gotten from point A to Point Starfish Blue Dot without any clear reasoning.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Exactly. I love how you worded it, by the way. :)

6:50 AM  

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