Turner: abortion bill is comedic gold

Mathias Turner

Mathias TurnerColumnist

Those gut-busters in Pierre are at it again. Following the hilarity of their recently proposed tongue-in-cheek handgun legislation, our legislators have decided to keep the laugh-fest rolling with HB 1217, their latest bill on abortion. Explanation kills humor, but since there are so many of us who seemingly have trouble understanding the comedic genius behind it, I’ll try to clear things up a bit. As the bill contains several parts and deeply layered humor, I’ll go through it piece by piece.

The bill begins with a serious tone by proposing a 72-hour waiting period for anyone seeking an abortion, presumably in an effort to discourage all those abortion lovers who decide to go have one just for kicks. It’s no secret that terminating pregnancies is one of the primary forms of entertainment among liberals; it’s something akin to Elvis-themed Vegas weddings, often the culmination of an escalating game of alcohol-fueled truth or dare. By beginning on this serious note, the bill’s subsequent humor stands out in stark contrast, making it even more unexpected and hilarious.

During the waiting period, women are required to receive counsel from someone at the Pregnancy Help Center. The justification for this is to investigate any possible coercion which may have affected the woman’s decision to have an abortion, and at the same time attempt to coerce her into changing her mind. Ha! While the idea that women are not intelligent enough to make their own decisions without the sage advice of PHC volunteers who lack medical credentials may seem sexist on the surface, it’s just like when Family Guy makes sexist jokes. The humor comes from the fact that such attitudes are ridiculous in the 21st century, and not taken seriously by anyone who is fit for modern society. On another level, by pretending our views on gender are several decades behind the rest of the nation, this serves as brilliant commentary on the common misconception that we’re embarrassingly backwater and provincial here in South Dakota.

The humor goes even deeper when one takes into account the fact that the support for this bill is almost uniformly Republican. After going red in the face fighting against government intervention in health care for so long, they’re pretending to have completely flipped their principles around while under the influence of the intoxicating excitement resulting from the chance to attack abortion. They’re pretending to be drunk off zealotry, led around by their ideological boner in the same way that a drunken college student may let his hormones convince him to leave the bars with a girl he normally finds unattractive. This is quite possibly the most indirect, sophisticated penis joke I’ve ever heard. The layered humor continues by encouraging not only government intervention in health care, but additional intervention by requiring women to speak with a complete stranger about their personal medical decisions. Obviously, no fan of small government would ever take something like this seriously.

Finally, the bill states that if an abortion is carried out and coercion is later determined to be a factor in the woman’s decision, the doctor who performed the abortion is the one who will be punished. Here, the style of humor changes from satirical to goofy and random. Clearly, there is no logical reason to punish someone for another person’s behavior, and doing so would be shockingly immoral. Simply entertaining the idea is hilariously outlandish. While I don’t enjoy this style of laugh as much as the legislature’s social commentary, it does serve as evidence of their mastery of different styles of humor and ability to appeal to a wide audience. Considering how off the wall this is, you have to at least give them points for creativity.

While I like a good laugh as much as anyone else, I can’t help but feel that our legislature may not be taking their jobs as seriously as they should be. Comedy is great, but the House floor doesn’t really seem like the place for it. I guess the joke is on us for paying them to host open mic night in the capitol. They should probably give up politics and instead follow their apparent passion and talent for making people laugh. I think it would be best for everyone.

Mathias is a non-traditional student majoring in Spanish. Reach him at [email protected].