by Maria Vitale Gallagher
February 14, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — The South Dakota House has passed a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in the state. But veteran pro-life leaders on the national level doubt the ban will succeed in serving as a test case for overturning Roe v. Wade.
The bill comes on the heels of information gathered last year by an abortion task force, which concluded that life begins at conception and abortion is harmful to women.
Rep. Elizabeth Kraus (R-Rapid City), a supporter of the bill, said in published reports, “The state cannot continue to protect the abortion practice, for the right and duty to preserve life cannot co-exist with the right to destroy it.”
Gov. Mike Rounds has indicated that he will support the bill if his initial concerns are addressed. However, even if the bill is passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, opponents are expected to get a court order to stop it from becoming law July 1.
While pro-life advocates believe the intent of the bill is laudable, some leading national pro-life leaders say that, given the current makeup of the Supreme Court, it is unlikely that such a bill will be upheld. They say another Justice who objects to Roe would have to join the high court before such legislation would be allowed to stand.
Pro-life groups also worry about being forced to pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to pro-abortion attorneys in legal fees should the state lose the expected lawsuit abortion advocates will file.
Meanwhile, a state legislative committee has endorsed a proposal making it clear that the South Dakota Constitution does not grant a right to abortion.
If the legislature gives final approval to the proposed constitutional amendment, it could go on the November ballot.
Specifically, the South Dakota Constitution would be amended to say, “This Constitution shall not be construed to grant any right relating to abortion.”
An overturn of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade would leave the issue of abortion up to each individual state. The proposed constitutional change means that if Roe is struck down, no South Dakota court could identify a right to abortion in the state constitution.
Originally, the measure would have altered the constitution to say that South Dakota policy is to protect the life of an unborn child from conception to birth. However, the committee removed the language after some senators said it was unnecessary.
Meanwhile, pro-life Rep. Roger Hunt (R-Brandon) was unable to revive a bill that would have required abortionists in South Dakota to provide additional information to women seeking abortions. Hunt said women are often not told about all the physical and emotional risks associated with abortion.
The House Judiciary Committee killed Hunt’s measure this week by an 8-5 vote. Hunt attempted to resurrect the bill on the House floor but fell one vote short of the 24 votes he needed.
Hunt told the South Dakota press, “The subject is such that it certainly warrants a full-fledged debate.”
The measure would have allowed women who felt they were not adequately advised about the risks of abortion to sue the doctors who performed the surgery or provided the drugs that caused the abortions. The bill would have allowed women to file suit within two years of discovering that the problems they were experiencing could be linked to their abortions.
The State Medical Association opposed the bill.
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