South Dakota Reservation Bans Abortion, Suspends Tribal President Seeking Abortion Clinic

The tribal council of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has voted to completely ban abortion on the reserve, ending efforts by council president Cecelia Fire Thunder to establish an abortion clinic within tribal territory.

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council also voted to suspend council president Fire Thunder, saying she solicited donations for an abortion clinic without the permission of the council, Keloland news reported Wednesday.

Tribal council representative Will Peters, who made the motion to suspend Fire Thunder for 20 days until an impeachment hearing takes place, said the president's actions amounted to unauthorized political activity.

Fire Thunder began pushing for the establishment of an abortion clinic on the reserve after South Dakota passed a law last March banning almost all categories of abortion in the state. She said that state law would not apply within the reservation boundaries.

Retired chief judge for the Oglala, Patrick Lee, who teaches tribal law at Oglala Lakota College, told the AP in April that an abortion clinic would go against tribal law and the inherent respect for all life held by the Oglala people.

“Life is sacred &#0151 the winged, two-legged, four-legged. You hear constant references to respect for life. It’s the tribal law,” he said.

Lee said respect for the unborn is specifically stated in the juvenile code of tribal law: “A child conceived, but not born, is to be deemed an existing person so far as may be necessary for its interests and welfare to be protected in the event of its subsequent birth.”

Fire Thunder denied soliciting donations and said the council’s actions were “an ambush.” This will be the third impeachment charge brought against Fire Thunder by council members &#0151 the council dismissed two previous complaints.

(This article courtesy of

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