by Steven Ertelt
February 12, 2007
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — A South Dakota Senate committee signed off on a second attempt to prohibit abortions in the state. The new abortion ban it approved would add rape and incest exceptions in an attempt to receive approval from state voters, who defeated a previous measure on a 56 to 44 percent vote last November.
The House State Affairs Committee approved the bill on a 10-3 vote but not before adding a provision that would automatically send it to state voters for their consideration.
Planned Parenthood took the previous abortion ban, which contained only a life of the mother exception, to the voters. Although they rejected it on the ballot, polls showed a strong majority of voters would have voted for the abortion ban had it had the additional exceptions.
HB 1293 now heads to the state House floor but it could face a tougher time than the previous abortion ban because some of the past supporters plan to vote against the new measure. They say they don’t want another statewide abortion battle on the heels of the last one.
"It’s far too soon to put our state through something of such a difficult nature again," Democratic Sen. Julie Bartling, a prime sponsor of last year’s abortion bill, said according to the Rapid City Journal.
But Republican Rep. Gordon Howie, a sponsor of the revised ban, says pro-life advocates shouldn’t lose the momentum built with the previous legislation. He says it should be approved by voters with the exceptions added.
"What the voters told us was that they were uncomfortable with the rape and incest circumstances. And so this bill is one that was specifically designed for the majority of South Dakotans or with them in mind," Howie said.
Abortions in cases of rape and incest are very rare — accounting for less than one percent of all abortions according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute — and women considering an abortion who have been victims of sexual assault must have reported the attack to authorities within 50 days to get the abortion.
Doctors would have to confirm the report and obtain DNA evidence to help police track down the assailant.
Abortions in rape and incest cases would be allowed until the 17th week of pregnancy, under the bill.
Kate Looby, state director of Planned Parenthood in South Dakota, says her group is opposed to the bill and complained about the rape reporting provisions, saying they are too much of a burden for women who are victims.
Her group runs the only abortion center in the state, located in Sioux Falls.