South Dakota Tribal Leader Who Called for Abortion Clinic on Reservation Ousted Again

A tribal president who was ousted and then reinstated after proposing an abortion clinic on the reservation was again stripped of her leadership role Tuesday.

An Oglala Sioux tribal judge had reinstalled Cecelia Fire Thunder to office Monday after she argued that her removal on June 29 violated tribal procedure.

The judge acted after the tribal council removed Fire Thunder from office for proposing a clinic on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that would be beyond the reach of South Dakota's strict new abortion ban.

On Tuesday, tribal Judge Lisa Adams vacated her order after receiving a motion that argued she could not issue an injunction against the tribe or one of its officials. The judge's order had restored Fire Thunder to office pending a July 28 hearing on the impeachment issues.

Alex White Plume, who succeeded Fire Thunder and now resumes office as president, told The Associated Press Tuesday the tribal council has more authority than the tribal court.

"The tribal council action is the supreme law, so she overstepped her bounds a little bit," White Plume said. "We all knew the court didn't have that kind of authority."

The AP left voicemail messages for Fire Thunder, who did not respond immediately.

The conflict arose after Gov. Mike Rounds signed a law earlier this year that bans abortion in almost all cases and does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

Fire Thunder, who once worked part-time at a Planned Parenthood clinic in California, has said her support for a clinic comes from concern for girls and women who are victims of rape and incest.

After she indicated she would like to open a clinic on the reservation, the council voted May 29 to suspend her and later voted to remove her from office.