Proposed abortion ban in S. Dakota may return to the voters in 2008

PIERRE, S.D. (BP)--South Dakota voters will decide next year whether to ban most abortions if a bill passed in the state House Feb. 14 becomes law.

The bill is different from a law that voters considered and rejected last year. That failed proposal contained an exception only to save the mother's life. The newest bill, which passed the House of Representatives 45-25, has that exception as well as ones for rape, incest and a "serious" health risk. The hope is that the extra exceptions will make it more acceptable to voters.

The bill, which now goes to the state Senate, is a direct challenge to the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. If adopted by voters in 2008, the bill almost certainly would be struck down as unconstitutional, although supporters hope the Supreme Court takes the case and overturns Roe.

"The rights that we’re discussing are not ours to give. They’re given by our Creator," Republican state Rep. Gordon Howie, a bill supporter, said during debate, according to the Rapid City Journal. "Those rights are ours to defend. We believe in bringing this bill we’re fulfilling a responsibility to defend those rights on behalf of those who are most innocent and the most vulnerable."

South Dakota is one of a handful of states considering bills challenging Roe. Some pro-lifers oppose the bills and argue the Supreme Court likely will strike them down, resulting in bad legal precedent for the pro-life cause. Five of the nine current justices are on record as supporting Roe.

The bill, HB 1293, allows for abortion if there is a "serious risk of a substantial and irreversible impairment of the functioning of a major bodily organ or system of the mother." It also says South Dakota "has a right and duty to protect the life of the unborn child, and to protect the life, health, and well-being of any pregnant woman within its jurisdiction." Abortion, the bill says, subjects pregnant women to "significant psychological and physical health risks."

South Dakota's governor signed a bill into law last year banning most abortions, although it never took effect. Voters rejected it by a vote of 56-44 percent.

Mississippi's Senate passed a ban on most abortions Feb. 7. That bill -- which would not have to be approved by voters -- contained exceptions for rape, incest and to save the mother's life. It currently is in the state House.


Compiled by Michael Foust

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