Fire Thunder

(I’ve been composing this particular article for a couple of days now…)

I stumbled across this article a few days ago:

The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed [over sexist asshat Napoli’s comments on abortion]. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.

“To me, it is now a question of sovereignty,” she said to me last week. “I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.”

I think this is marvellous (and I’ve also been chewing over the potential longer term legal implications of asserting tribal sovereignity this way, something surely not foreseen way back when) and I’ve also sent them some money.

But the question I’ve also had: why don’t they already have abortion services in the tribal hospitals? As best as I can determine, they don’t. Why not? And did PP’s response (ala “thank-you-very-much-but-we’ve-no-plans-to-close-or-open-any-clinics-in-south-dakota) strike anyone else as absurdly patronizing?


We need family planning and contraception to be readily available everywhere, not just to affluent (white) women. To reduce the rates of abortion, and to increase the odds of a safe and healthy pregnancy, all women need to be informed: not just about contraception, but how reproduction works, what they need to take care of themselves, and what resources are available to them (and there need to BE resources!). Without that, the outlook is grim indeed for women, especially poor women who often can’t afford the travel needed, let alone the cost of the abortion itself.

Other articles have made it clear that Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest in the nation. This inevitably means that South Dakota’s legislation will fall disproportionately on the women of this reservation as rape victims face severe obstacles just to travel to the state’s only Planned Parenthood clinic. And links between poverty and violence will ensure plenty of rape victims. And poverty exacerbates the lack of access to contraception in the first place.

Lather, rinse, repeat for all poor, isolated, and rural areas that come under restrictive abortion bans.

Some food for thought (many of these links courtesy of kateorman in her entry regarding South Dakota)

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