South Dakota Senate Changes Abortion Ban Measure Amid Legal Concerns

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 22, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Senate Changes Abortion Ban Measure Amid Legal Concerns

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 22, 2004

Pierre, SD ( — Members of the South Dakota state Senate have changed a bill intended to ban virtually all abortions in South Dakota into legislation that would make sure abortion practitioners are required to divulge the risks associated with abortion before a woman has one. Legislators made the change because of concerns that the ban would be found unconstitutional.

The state House had perviously approved the abortion ban by a 54-15 vote.

Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee said the bill, that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade, would almost certainly be struck down by the Supreme Court, which currently has a pro-abortion majority.

Senator Jay Duenwald (R), one senator who worried about the bill’s legal prospects, moved to insert the text of another piece of legislation into the bill.

The change turns the bill into a Right to Know law that requires abortion practitioners to provide women considering abortion with information about abortion’s risks and alternatives as well as details about the development of her unborn child.

The new measure retains a policy statement saying members of the legislature agree that science has definitely proven that life begins at fertilization. The Supreme Court, in the Webster case in 1989, upheld state’s rights to make statements about the origination of human life in the womb.

Members of the Senate committee then sent the bill to the full Senate on an 8-1 vote.

Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R) said he opposed the new version of the bill and encouraged pro-life legislators to be more courageous by passing the bill in its original form.

But Sen. Eric Bogue (R) said he didn’t see any reason to support a bill that would be a wasted effort when it courts overturn it. He said he wants to support a bill that will do something to reduce the number of abortions.

Shoenbeck says he will ask the full Senate to override the amendment to the bill and vote on the original version.

Pro-life groups have had mixed views on the legislation. Some are supporting it and asking other pro-life groups to give it a chance. Other organizations say pro-life advocates should remain focused on doing the preparatory work necessary to lay the groundwork for overturning Roe, such as electing pro-life senators to confirm pro-life judges to the Supreme Court.

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