South Dakota’s Second Attempt to Ban Most Abortions No Guarantee

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 5, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota’s Second Attempt to Ban Most Abortions No Guarantee Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 5
, 2007

Pierre, SD ( — South Dakota legislators are trying a second time to ban most abortions in the state but this time it may not be so easy to get the ban through the state legislature. Voters defeated the first attempt to ban abortions and a new ban may run into problems over how to add exceptions for rape and incest, something voters preferred to have.

Voters rejected the first abortion ban on a 56 to 44 margin at the polls last November which prohibited all abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother.

Yet, surveys consistently showed a large majority of voters would approve a ban with rape and incest exceptions.

With figures from the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute showing that abortions in such cases constitute less than one percent of all abortions, the ban would still prohibit virtually all abortions.

However, implementing the rape and incest exceptions may prove difficult.

The new bill, HB 1293, allows abortions in those cases only if the pregnant woman reports the rape to authorities within 50 days of the sexual assault. Abortions would then be legal up to 17 weeks after the pregnancy began and physicians would need the woman’s consent to take blood or tissue samples to the police to help find and prosecute the rapist.

In incest cases, the 17 week limit and DNA testing would apply and doctors would be required to tell social services about the incident.

Rep. Kathy Miles, a Sioux Falls Democrat who is sponsoring the second abortion ban, told the Argus Leader newspaper that the setup is designed to help women and encourage reporting cases of rape.

"Why wouldn’t you want to report it?" Miles asked.
"Right now, the rapist gets off scot-free to go off and do it again," she added. "No one wants that."

But Mary Jones, a Sioux Falls counselor who actively opposed last year’s ban, said the rape and incest provisions are unworkable because most rapes aren’t reported and most incest victims are "brainwashed" by their attacker.

"I think this is completely the wrong way to go about it," she told the Leader.

Some legislators have told local media they are reluctant to devote the state legislature’s time to the issue of abortion but others say the votes will be there to pass the abortion ban once votes are taken.

Should the legislature approve the abortion ban, Gov. Mike Rounds would need to sign the ban into law and he said he hasn’t reviewed it yet.

Ultimately, any new abortion ban would be the subject of a lawsuit from abortion advocates or a petition campaign to put it on the ballot again.

Kate Looby, the state director of Planned Parenthood, which runs the state’s lone abortion business in Sioux Falls, says her group hasn’t determined what it might do about a second ban.

"We haven’t thought about that yet," she told the newspaper.