South Dakota State House Approves Bill Banning Most Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 11, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota State House Approves Bill Banning Most Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 11, 2004

Pierre, SD ( — A bill that would ban virtually all abortions in South Dakota has advanced further, with state House members giving it a 54-15 vote. The vote followed an intense debate lasting almost three hours.

The debate has representative dueling over whether to pass the bill because of the likelihood that courts will find it unconstitutional.

Democratic Rep. Mel Olson estimated said the as much as $1 million might be needed by the state to wage a costly court battle in defense of the law. According to the Associated Press, he blamed the legislation on "a lot of goodhearted people from other states who are frustrated with the Supreme Court, looking to ride the horse of our South Dakota taxpayers to the Supreme Court.”

But pro-life lawmakers who supported the legislation defended the bill saying a price tag couldn’t be put on the value of human life.

State Rep. Matt McCaulley (R), the lead sponsor of the bill, said the legislation defines life beginning at conception and seeks to challenge the notion in Roe that the court did not know when life begins.

Several women who have had abortions urged lawmakers in the committee hearing to ban abortions, and described the guilt and remorse they had after the abortion decision.

South Dakota’s governor is pro-life, but he is unsure if he would sign the bill. Gov. Mike Rounds is also concerned about the constitutionality and said last week that he wants to review the legislation because committing one way or the other.

Kate Looby, state director of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota, confirmed that her group would challenge the legislation in court if passed.

The legislation would likely make its way through the judicial process and the bill would almost certainly wind up at the Supreme Court. One there, a pro-abortion majority will almost definitely strike down the law most court observers say.

"It’s one of the concerns that I would have, but it would not necessarily lead to a veto," Rounds explained.

Under the bill, any abortion practitioner who performs an illegal abortion would be subject to a $5,000 fine and a maximum of five years in prison.

In 2002, 826 abortions were performed in South Dakota and the Planned Parenthood business in Sioux Falls performed 815 of them.

A copy of the bill can be found at