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Asetoyer's Platform Based on Women's and Family Rights

LAKE ANDES, S.D. ñ In March, South Dakota was thrown into the national spotlight by the passage of a nearly complete ban on abortion that has raised the ire of many women.

This election year will find more women running for state office, and they are running on a women and family rights platform.

Charon Asetoyer, Comanche, is one of those women. She is one of 10 American Indian candidates who is vying for a seat in the state Legislature.

Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Womenís Health Education Resource Center on the Yankton Reservation, has joined the list of Democratic candidates for the state Senate.

The Yankton Reservation, where Asetoyer lives and works, covers the entire southern half of Charles Mix County. Two years ago Charles Mix County attempted to avert redistricting to allow American Indian candidates to have a more powerful political voice.

Following a lawsuit, the county redistricted to accommodate the American Indian population more equitably.

That is not the rationale that brought Asetoyer to her decision to run. Her decision was made because of the last two legislative sessions that debated bills detrimental to womenís rights and the rights of families.

ìI feel we are going into a frightening time. Legislators are going down a dangerous path and it is very scary.

ìThis has really opened the eyes of South Dakota and started a huge groundswell of political organizing and political activity within the state. People have been made aware of what the right-wing agenda is ñ to take away our rights and to make our most intimate personal decisions for us.

ìWe are walking down the path of fascism,î Asetoyer said.

She said a state Legislature has no right to legislate a familyís most personal decisions and that those decisions are up to the family involved.

When American Indians run for state office they most often are judged by the culture and not by issues, court data have shown. American Indian candidates have difficulty getting elected in certain districts because of many arguments or rumors that distract voters.

Asetoyer is not running on any issues of a political nature that would support Indian country. She did not mention gaming, racial profiling or jurisdiction as part of her platform.

ìThere is always concern by the non-Indian community any time a Native person steps up to get involved in the process, but a lot of people are concerned that the state is trying to legislate our personal decisions,î Asetoyer said.

ìVoters are looking for candidates who will stand up and fight for the protection of our rights, not just stopping with the abortion ban; they are working to deny us access to other types of health care.î

She said the bills that didnít pass in the last legislature will most likely come up next time around.

ìThey will challenge our rights as women. They tried to modify the informed consent law, and for those women who were considering abortion they would have been subject to a psychiatric evaluation,î Asetoyer said. ìMeaning, women who are pregnant canít make sound decisions.î

This would have the effect of denying women employment or denying them credit, she said.

She said that would be a very dangerous path to travel and her object is to protect basic human and civil rights as a legislator.

ìThere were nine bills that were anti-family or anti-women and out of those, two passed,î she said.

One of those two bills was a near-total ban on abortion and the other, a sex education bill that required educators to teach abstinence.

ìI have no problems with teaching abstinence, unless it is within a comprehensive sex education program. Educators have a responsibility to prepare young people for adulthood. Just saying ënoí without telling them how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, [how to prevent] pregnancy, [giving them information] about contraceptives and all the things they need to know to live a healthy life, is wrong,î she said.

Asetoyer also wants the public to know that what some right-wing supporters are saying about contraceptives is wrong.

ìThey are trying to get the public to buy into the idea that contraceptives abort a pregnancy, thatís wrong. They are trying to go after our contraceptives.î

She said her campaign will get right to the heart of the issues and not candy coat any issue. She added that people are talking about the issues of womenís and human rights at dinner tables across the state.

LAKE ANDES, S.D. ñ In March, South Dakota was thrown into the national spotlight by the passage of a nearly complete ban on abortion that has raised the ire of many women.This election year will find more women running for state office, and they are running on a women and family rights platform.Charon Asetoyer, Comanche, is one of those women. She is one of 10 American Indian candidates who is vying for a seat in the state Legislature.Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Womenís Health Education Resource Center on the Yankton Reservation, has joined the list of Democratic candidates for the state Senate.The Yankton Reservation, where Asetoyer lives and works, covers the entire southern half of Charles Mix County. Two years ago Charles Mix County attempted to avert redistricting to allow American Indian candidates to have a more powerful political voice.Following a lawsuit, the county redistricted to accommodate the American Indian population more equitably.That is not the rationale that brought Asetoyer to her decision to run. Her decision was made because of the last two legislative sessions that debated bills detrimental to womenís rights and the rights of families.ìI feel we are going into a frightening time. Legislators are going down a dangerous path and it is very scary.ìThis has really opened the eyes of South Dakota and started a huge groundswell of political organizing and political activity within the state. People have been made aware of what the right-wing agenda is ñ to take away our rights and to make our most intimate personal decisions for us. ìWe are walking down the path of fascism,î Asetoyer said.She said a state Legislature has no right to legislate a familyís most personal decisions and that those decisions are up to the family involved.When American Indians run for state office they most often are judged by the culture and not by issues, court data have shown. American Indian candidates have difficulty getting elected in certain districts because of many arguments or rumors that distract voters.Asetoyer is not running on any issues of a political nature that would support Indian country. She did not mention gaming, racial profiling or jurisdiction as part of her platform.ìThere is always concern by the non-Indian community any time a Native person steps up to get involved in the process, but a lot of people are concerned that the state is trying to legislate our personal decisions,î Asetoyer said.ìVoters are looking for candidates who will stand up and fight for the protection of our rights, not just stopping with the abortion ban; they are working to deny us access to other types of health care.îShe said the bills that didnít pass in the last legislature will most likely come up next time around.ìThey will challenge our rights as women. They tried to modify the informed consent law, and for those women who were considering abortion they would have been subject to a psychiatric evaluation,î Asetoyer said. ìMeaning, women who are pregnant canít make sound decisions.îThis would have the effect of denying women employment or denying them credit, she said.She said that would be a very dangerous path to travel and her object is to protect basic human and civil rights as a legislator.ìThere were nine bills that were anti-family or anti-women and out of those, two passed,î she said. One of those two bills was a near-total ban on abortion and the other, a sex education bill that required educators to teach abstinence.ìI have no problems with teaching abstinence, unless it is within a comprehensive sex education program. Educators have a responsibility to prepare young people for adulthood. Just saying ënoí without telling them how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, [how to prevent] pregnancy, [giving them information] about contraceptives and all the things they need to know to live a healthy life, is wrong,î she said.Asetoyer also wants the public to know that what some right-wing supporters are saying about contraceptives is wrong.ìThey are trying to get the public to buy into the idea that contraceptives abort a pregnancy, thatís wrong. They are trying to go after our contraceptives.îShe said her campaign will get right to the heart of the issues and not candy coat any issue. She added that people are talking about the issues of womenís and human rights at dinner tables across the state.