All Fired Up
Cecilia Fire Thunder Makes a Reservation for Choice
By Tracy Ziemer
DAKOTA IS a pretty dismal place to be a young woman,"
says Sarah Stoesz, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota,
North Dakota, and South Dakota. And she has reason to think
so. In March, South Dakota governor Mike Rounds signed the
nation's most restrictive abortion bill, banning the procedure
statewide even in cases of incest and rape unless it is to
save the mother's life. Then Senator Bill Napoli upped the
insanity ante by saying that most abortions are performed
for "convenience" and suggesting an exception be
made only for raped religious virgins.
Badlands, indeed, but perhaps not for long. Cecilia Fire Thunder,
president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota,
and a former nurse, is attempting to counter this conservative
measure with her plans to establish an abortion clinic on
the Pine Ridge Reservation - where state law doesn't apply.
"I consider this law a travesty," Fire Thunder writes
in an op-ed piece for the Yale Law School publication Opening
Argument. "It imposes Christian ideology on women's most
important reproductive and health decisions."
Approximately $12,000 and hundreds of supportive emails from
around the world have poured in to Pine Ridge sinceFire Thunder's
announcement in March. But even before the ban, South Dakota
had just two Planned Parenthood clinics. Only the Sioux Falls
location, however, could offer abortions, and doctors had
to be flown in to perform them since local docs wouldn't.
While the ban faces court challenges and a November ballot
referendum, Fire Thunder will proceed with the clinic no matter
how legal maneuvering shakes out. "As a tribal leader
and a Lakota woman," Fire Thunder writes. "I have
a responsibility to the well-being of my people." Check
for ways to support this effort.
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