March 23rd, 2006

Some good news in South Dakota.

I recently read that the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe expressed her intention to set up a Planned Parenthood clinic on their reservation, which is inside South Dakota but does not fall under South Dakota law. According to the Native American Times:
When Governor Mike Rounds signed HB 1215 into law it effectively banned all abortions in the state with the exception that it did allow saving the mother’s life. There were, however, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.


The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecelia Fire Thunder, was incensed. 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.”

Wonderful! I admire her initiative and determination and have been thinking about sending her a donation.

Some more information to consider, though:

According to this journal entry and this article at the Planned Parenthood site, PP does not have immediate plans to establish a clinic at the reservation. They intend to keep their clinics at Rapid City, SD and Sioux Falls, SD open and are not planning to move them. I guess that makes sense: if you have finite resources, it’s more effective to use them to keep the existing clinics operating as long as possible.

In another journal entry, an unconfirmed source claiming to be a resident on the Pine Ridge reservation suggests waiting to hear a more concrete plan for a clinic before sending donations.

So, make your own judgement call.

This entry on feminist explains that donations and letters of support can be sent to Cecelia Fire Thunder at:

President Fire Thunder
Oglala Sioux Tribe
PO Box 2070
Pine Ridge, SD 57770-2070
Checks should be made out to “OST Planned Parenthood Cecelia Fire Thunder.” President Fire Thunder can also be reached by e-mail at: firethunder_president [at] yahoo [dot] com (please carbon-copy all correspondence to her secretary at: vbush [at] oglala [dot] org).

Or you can make a donation to Planned Parenthood in MN/ND/SD. Or you can direct your donation specifically to support the legal fight against the South Dakota law.

It seems to me there’s a reasonable chance that the law will be struck down soon enough that the existing clinics won’t have to close. According to this Reuters article, the law does not come into effect until July 1, and abortion rights supporters are already working to put the issue on a ballot referendum for the November election. Let’s hope. Anyway, whether or not an abortion clinic actually gets established on the reservation, it’s good to see lots of activity and attention around this issue.