South Dakota Lawmakers Seek Legal Fund to Defend Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 24, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Lawmakers Seek Legal Fund to Defend Abortion Ban Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 24, 2006

Pierre, SD ( — As the state of South Dakota and those involved in the nationwide abortion battle watch to see whether pro-life Gov. Mike Rounds will sign an abortion ban the state legislature has approved, lawmakers are organizing a legal defense fund to prepare for the expected pro-abortion lawsuit.

The Senate approved HB 1215 on a 23-12 vote on Wednesday which would prohibit all abortions in the state with the rare exception of those that may be necessary to save the life of the mother.

The bill heads to the House for a vote on a minor amendment today that the Senate approved establishing a legal defense fund for the purposes of defending abortion-related legislation. The vote to approve it is expected to be a formality.

The Argus Leader newspaper reports South Dakota pro-life advocates have started asking pro-life groups around the country to donate.

Also, an anonymous donor has planned a $1 million donation to defend the legislation, according to pro-life state lawmaker Roger Hunt.

Rounds has not said whether he will sign the bill this time around. He vetoed a measure last year because it would have removed all of the state’s pro-life laws from the books while the legal challenge was tied up in court.

Kate Looby, state director of Planned Parenthood, told the Leader that the abortion business will not wait until the bill goes into effect in July to file a lawsuit against her. Lawyers for her organization are busily preparing court papers already.

"We expect (Rounds) to sign the bill in the relatively near future," Looby said. "There will be a small time lag as we prepare to take this to the court and ask for an injunction to prevent it from ever taking effect in South Dakota."

Once the lawsuit reaches the courts, lower courts are expected to follow the Roe v. Wade precedent and overturn the legislation. The key battle will be at the Supreme Court level — if the high court takes the case.

Pro-life groups are mixed on whether the legislation is jumping the gun.

Some say there are now four votes against Roe and there’s hope that another justice will retire between now and the 2008 presidential elections. Others say that’s unlikely and that a fifth vote against Roe should be in place before proceeding.