August 8, 2003 by

Ben Munson


Categories: Law, Medicine

Dr. H. Benjamin Munson performed abortions in South Dakota even before it was legal to do so.
Munson believed women had the right to safely end a pregnancy, and he risked his medical practice and well-being by performing abortions at a Rapid City clinic in the late 1960s. At the time, he was the only physician in the entire state willing to perform the procedure.
In 1969, Munson was arrested and charged with performing an illegal abortion. He won his case at the circuit court level, but the state appealed, and the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled against him. His case was still in appeals when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 with the Roe v. Wade case.
“He thought it was absolutely essential that women have the right to make that decision themselves. That’s what it was all about for him,” said Homer Kandaras, Munson’s attorney.
Munson died on July 27 of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 87.

3 Responses to Ben Munson

  1. Mark Munson

    Dr. Ben was my father. Having grown up in his home, I feel compelled to clarify that his original notoriety in Rapid City was his notion that women and coloreds should have the same rights as people. Our home took far more death threats for that than for abortion rights. Through it all he never maligned any person, only their ignorance and the hurt it caused; even his foes admit he was a class act.

  2. marsha Balsley

    Dr Munson retired 20 years ago this month from h is abortion practice. I was one of his loudest picketers and then I was one of his friends for 6 years after that. In fact, Dr Munson and I were in the front page of a Colorado newspaper when he retired. We started to get together at JB’s for coffee and ice cream and talk. I became interested in his soul for Christ’ sake. We met at my home, J.B’s, and his home for about 6 years.He came to my church. My pastor visited him one time when he was in the hospital. He honestly did believe that he was helping women out of a tragic situation. I do hope he understood Jesus as his savior and I think it is a possibility. I appreciate your good intentions, Dr Munson.
    I would love to speak to my christian family and encourage them to pray for the active pro-abortion people, love them, win them for Christ. Marsha Balsley

  3. Christina

    Well, Mark, I’d like to know how your dad reconciled the whole “women had the right to safely end a pregnancy” with what he did to Linda Padfield and Yvonne Mesteth. I mean, he made it through medical school so I think the ability to count to four — two arms, two legs — ought not to have been beyond him.

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