Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In the News

Deja vu in South Dakota

When will God's mercy end?

Rescinding of invitation
Nancy Turbak Berry • State senator (D) Watertown• May 20, 2008

Many months ago, I was asked to give the commencement address at Presentation College in Aberdeen on May 10, and I agreed to do so. At the last minute, I was disinvited. I could not have been more surprised or disappointed, but apparently it suddenly was decided that speakers at the college must pass a litmus test that I do not satisfy.

I regret that I was not allowed to share with the graduates the remarks I had prepared about selflessness and spirituality, service to others and the duty to share the gifts with which we are blessed.

My own gifts include a growing ability to respect and to embrace those whose opinions differ from my own. Especially in recent years, I have focused much of my energy on building bridges among people with diverse opinions, promoting the joy of goodwill and personal kindness and encouraging others to join me in seeking common, higher ground.

It saddens me, therefore, to see an institution of higher education pressured to deny a speaker the opportunity to express even the most benevolent thoughts because of her opinion on one particular issue.

I was told I was not welcome to speak because I do not share the Catholic Church's position on the proper role of government in decisions about reproduction. While not an especially defining issue for me, I always have been candid about my view that government should have a limited role in what I consider to be very personal decisions.That was a matter of public knowledge long before I was invited to speak. The invitation itself indicated that others also are willing to see beyond our differences and seek unity rather than divisiveness.

The reversal of that decision is unfortunate but will not deter me from continuing to promote kindness and goodwill, thoughtful and respectful discourse and a greater understanding among us all.

I wish Presentation College, its administration and especially its recent graduates the very best.

Understand Viewpoints

Letter to the Editor:

Last month, eight South Dakota organizations with differing missions came together and found some common ground. We want to see a common sense solution to the problem of unplanned pregnancies in our state.

The groups sent a letter to Governor Rounds calling on him to convene experts from his administration to investigate the problem of unintended pregnancy and to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies in South Dakota.

By addressing this problem, especially among teenagers, we can reduce the number of abortions in SD along with alleviating social problems connected with teen parenthood. Teen mothers are less likely to marry or stay married, less likely to complete high school or go on to college, and more likely to live in poverty than their peers who are not mothers. That’s why a number of states have already made it a priority to prevent unplanned pregnancies through family planning, community health, and human services programs.

The governor’s response to our letter is that South Dakota’s abortion rate and teen pregnancy rate are already low, lower than the national average. So there’s no need for the state to do more to decrease those numbers?

We face another vote on an abortion ban in our state in November. Do the people of South Dakota truly want to ban abortion—the procedure that women turn to in a large percentage of cases of unplanned pregnancy--without making it a priority to reduce those unplanned pregnancies? We hope not. We want to raise awareness of this problem and work to prevent unintended pregnancies in South Dakota.

Mary Kraljic
State Public Policy Chair
American Association of University Women-SD

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