Abortion Ban Signed into Law by South Dakota Governor

By John-Henry Westen

PIERRE, March 6, 2006 ( - South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds has signed into law the first abortion ban in the United States since the 1973 Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision. The bill, House Bill 1215, passed with strong bi-partisan support in both houses and makes abortion a felony in the state, punishable by up to five years imprisonment. It is to go into effect this July.

The only exception to the South Dakota law would be cases where the life of the mother was in danger. Lawmakers successfully avoided making changes to the bill that would allow abortions in cases of rape, incest, or for the “health” of the mother, exceptions which usually cripple the application of laws against abortion. It does not prohibit abortifacient drugs such as the morning after pill in cases of rape or incest.

On signing the bill the Governor stated, “In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them.”

The Governor acknowledged that the law is “a direct challenge” to Roe vs. Wade and said he expects the law to be taken to court and prevented from going into effect in July.“That challenge will likely take years to be settled and it may ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court. Our existing laws regulating abortions will remain in effect,” said Rounds.

Rounds did suggest however that a reversal of opinion from the Supreme Court is possible.

Rounds concluded his remarks saying: “While this is a state and national issue, I want to emphasize that whatever the courts decide, South Dakotans will continue to care about both the unborn child and mother. If we are pro-life, we must recognize the need to take care of women who are faced with a difficult pregnancy. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy, we cannot protect the innocent child, unless we protect and care for the mother. We must help each mother to see the value of the gift that is a child, and nurture the mother for her own sake and for the sake of her child.

“Our state is committed to helping greater numbers of pregnant woman who will allow their babies to grow inside them and be born. In both the private and public sector in South Dakota, we have healthcare options, economic assistance before and after birth, adoption services, and, most importantly, people who want to help pregnant women, young mothers and their children.”Â

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