South Dakota State Senator advocates abortion rights

By Zach Selke

Scott Heidepriem, a Democratic South Dakota state senator from Sioux Falls, lectured a small audience in the John B. Davis lecture hall on Tuesday about his involvement in the pro-choice movement in South Dakota. Heidepriem, father of Sam Heidepriem ’09, warned the audience not to assume that women in this country will always have the reproductive rights they currently enjoy.

These rights are in jeopardy, he said. “Roe v. Wade is hanging on by thread.”

Heidepriem switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party because of his opinions on the Iraq War and reproductive rights. The senator spoke about his opposition to the “Right to Life” legislation in South Dakota, which would have banned almost all abortions in the state.

Heidepriem reasoned that the anti-abortion movement has gained success by putting the abortion argument in apocalyptic terms as a conflict between absolute good and evil.

During this time period, Heidepriem’s life was threatened and his family was moved to a “safe house.”

The “Right to Life” measure was later defeated by an 18-17 vote in the South Dakota Senate and Heidepriem was marked as the pro-life movement’s biggest enemy in South Dakota.

The pro-choice movement in South Dakota, however, is hardly dead. The “Right to Life” organization in South Dakota is planning to bring a less severe ban of abortions, allowing abortions in cases of rape or incest, through a direct initiative to the voters of South Dakota in an effort to appeal to more moderate voters. Heidepriem spoke of the importance of upholding Roe v. Wade, as legislation like the proposed abortion ban could conceivably push a more conservative Supreme Court to overturn the landmark decision.

Heidepriem concluded his talk with thoughts on what action the pro-choice movement can take to support reproductive rights.

“We must fight to maintain Roe v. Wade at all costs,” he said. “We cannot rely too heavily on our laurels and a belief that the Supreme Court will maintain reproductive rights in the future.”

Lauren Appelwick ’08, a student leader of NARAL, said, “On a liberal campus like Macalester, many women don’t think about how their reproductive rights are in jeopardy. This, however, is not the case.”

“So many people grew up with Roe v. Wade, but we forget the struggle our mother’s generation went through to achieve the rights we have now,” said Beth Orlikowski ’09, another leader of NARAL.