by Steven Ertelt
February 22, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — The South Dakota state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that that would ban all abortions except in cases to prevent the death of the mother. Gov. Mike Rounds is expected to sign the legislation into law, which will be immediately challenged by pro-abortion groups in court.
Lawmakers backed the measure on a 23-12 vote and pro-life Gov. Rounds said he would "look favorably" on an abortion ban if the bill would "save life."
The House previously passed the legislation with a vote of 47 to 22.
"In my opinion, it is the time for the South Dakota Legislature to deal with this issue and protect the lives and rights of unborn children," Democratic Sen. Julie Bartling, the bill’s sponsor, said during the debate.
Planned Parenthood, which operates the state’s only abortion facility, has promised to challenge the legislation in court.
"If he chooses to sign it, we will be filing a lawsuit in short order to block it," Kate Looby, director of Planned Parenthood’s South Dakota business, said.
That has some pro-life advocates concerned that the legislature approved the ban too soon because the Supreme Court does not yet have the five votes necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Should the measure make it to the high court before a fifth vote is in place, it could add to the pro-Roe legal precedent and South Dakota taxpayers could be stuck paying Planned Parenthood’s legal bills.
According to an AP report, an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to cover the state’s legal costs.
"It is a calculated risk to be sure, but I believe it is a fight worth fighting," said Republican Sen. Brock Greenfield, also the director of South Dakota Right to Life.
Last year the legislature approved a similar bill but Rounds vetoed it because it would have taken current pro-life laws limiting abortions off the books during the legal challenge.
The measure does not allow for abortions for women who are victims of rape or incest but, during the Senate committee hearing, Megan Barnett, a rape victim who chose not to have an abortion, said lawmakers need to remember that unborn children deserve protection no matter how they were conceived.
"I believe life begins at conception no matter how the life is conceived and I now have a beautiful ten month old daughter," she said.
Abortion practitioners who perform abortions, should the measure become law, would face a possible five year prison term and a $5,000 fine.
State legislatures in Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky are also considering similar measures this year.
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