South Dakota Pro-Life Lawmakers Won’t Try Banning All Abortions Again

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 27, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Pro-Life Lawmakers Won’t Try Banning All Abortions Again Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 27, 2005

Pierre, SD ( — It appears a bill to ban all abortions in the state of South Dakota isn’t going to be coming back this legislative session. A bill last year to do that sharply divided the pro-life community both in the plains state as well as nationally over the best strategy to stop abortions.

Instead, lawmakers are preparing a package of bills that would further limit abortions in the state, which has just one abortion business.

Last year’s bill was the subjected of a technical veto by pro-life Governor Mike Rounds, a Republican, who didn’t like the wording of the bill. State legislators ended up unable to override the veto.

Some pro-life groups and lawmakers supported the bill, but others said it would eventually be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and add to the case law favoring the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Opponents were also worried the state would be required hand over thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood in legal fees as a result.

"Until there’s a change in the Supreme Court, we have some time to look at other issues that need attention in relation to abortion," Republican state Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the Senate sponsor of last year’s abortion ban, told the Associated Press.

This year’s bills are an attempt to rebuild relationships between pro-life legislators and pro-life groups.

"There are strong feelings across the board in the pro-life community that we need to work together this year because there was a lot of division last year," Schoenbeck added.

Sen. Jay Duenwald, a pro-life Republican, told AP he was doubtful that another wholesale abortion ban would probably not be offered this year.

What is planned, however, is an abortion information bill that would require the state’s lone abortion business in Sioux Falls to provide women with information about abortion’s risks and alternatives as well as the development of the baby.

Similar Right to Know bills in other states have been effective in reducing the number of abortions by about one-third.

A second bill will deal with parental notification.

Current state law requires parents to be notified in writing at least 48 hours prior to the abortion procedure on a teenager. The new legislation would tighten the requirements necessary for a judge to approve an abortion in an emergency situation so it doesn’t become a rubber stamp process.

A final bill would make abortions illegal in South Dakota should the Supreme Court ever reverse itself on Roe v. Wade.

Kate Looby, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and South Dakota, told AP she’s more worried about the new proposals because they will be more likely to stand up in court.

"When they talk about tightening restrictions, and we have many restrictions already on the books, tightening them up may not be unconstitutional but it really reduces access for women who need services or abortions," she told the news service.