Sioux leader vows to bring Planned Parenthood to S.D. reservation

Cecelia Fire Thunder: Abortion ban "is now a question of sovereignty."

Published March 22, 2006 11:21PM (EST)

Today, Broadsheet salutes Cecilia Fire Thunder, first female president of the Oglala Sioux tribe of South Dakota and a longtime advocate of domestic violence prevention and other true family-friendliness. Here's her response to her state's abortion ban (which Tim Giago at called "a stupid law against women" created by "a state body made up mostly of white males"):

"To me, it is now a question of sovereignty," she told Giago. "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."

Rock. On.

Where can we send a check?

While Fire Thunder may have been the first to make this particularly bold statement, advocates for Native American women in South Dakota have long been on the case. To name one: Yankton Sioux tribe member Charon Asetoyer, founder and executive director of the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center, who worked to oppose the ban. Asetoyer told Women's E-news last year that (this is the articles paraphrase) her "biggest challenge is protecting women's rights and Native American traditions and health practices from outside groups and government organizations." Asetoyer noted, for example, that decisions about abortion have traditionally been left to the woman -- yet, as Women's E-News noted, "the Sioux reservation's primary health care provider is a division of the United States Public Health Service." Which means: they're subject to the 1976 Hyde Amendment. Which means: no Medicaid funding for abortion services.

Broadsheet was unable to reach Fire Thunder today for comment about her Parenthood plans. We have a feeling, however, that you'll be hearing more about her at Meanwhile, let's hope that through her actions, and those of other like-minded advocates, this "stupid law" will help spur lasting change for the Native American women and families of South Dakota.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

MORE FROM Lynn Harris

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex