South Dakota State Senate Approves Ban on Almost All Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 25, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota State Senate Approves Ban on Almost All Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 25, 2004

Pierre, SD ( — On Tuesday, the South Dakota state Senate restored a bill that would ban most abortions in the state and gave it conditional approval. If it receives final approval and is signed by the governor, the legislation sets up a legal battle that will almost definitely wind its way to the Supreme Court.

A Senate legislative committee previously changed the state-House approved abortion ban and made it into a Right to Know bill, but the full Senate decided to undo those changes on Tuesday. With an 18-16 vote, senators chose to restore the original abortion ban language.

That vote initially was tied, 17 to 17, but Sen. William Napoli, R-Rapid City, switched his vote at the last moment.

After restoring the original language, senators voted down an attempt to include exceptions for rape and incest in the bill. The legislation allows abortions in the very rare cases when the pregnancy directly threatens the life of the mother.

Rep. Matt McCaulley, R-Sioux Falls, said the legislation would need to survive a conference committee to iron out the differences from the House and Senate. However, he expected the bill to emerge from the committee intact and said he expected it would be signed by pro-life Gov. Mike Rounds.

Many legislators were concerned that 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. Some say such a decision would further etched the Roe decision in stone, making it more difficult to overturn later.

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.

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.

Both of South Dakota’s U.S. senators, Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson, both Demcorats, support abortion.

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