By Gudrun Schultz

PIERRE, South Dakota, February 23, 2006 ( – South Dakota’s Senate passed a law yesterday banning all abortions in the state, in an open challenge to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe vs. Wade that made abortion a constitutional right.

Republican Governor Mike Rounds has yet to sign the bill, but he is known to oppose abortion. In 2004 Gov. Rounds vetoed a similar bill after it had passed the Senate vote, because the bill did not ensure that existing abortion restrictions would remain in effect while the law went to the courts, as it was expected to. This bill has been modified to address that concern.

Gov. Rounds has said in the past he would “look favorably” on an abortion ban if it would “save life.” He has said he won’t comment on whether or not he will sign the legislation until it formally arrives at his desk. It’s expected to reach him within a week, and he then has 15 days to come to a decision.

The bill, which passed by a 23-12 vote, makes abortion a felony in the state, punishable by up to five years imprisonment. 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.

“We applaud the courage of the South Dakota legislature in voting to ban abortion and end this tragic violence against women and children,” Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said in a press release today.

“With several states waiting in the wings to ban abortion, momentum is clearly building nationwide to overturn Roe. Polls are showing that more and more Americans are becoming uncomfortable with abortion and the overwhelming majority of our nation’s young people feel abortion is ‘immoral’.”

The bill was brought forward in a deliberate attempt to force the Supreme Court to re-examine the legality of abortion. The addition of two new Supreme Court judges nominated by President Bush, Justices John Roberts Jr. and Samuel Alito Jr., has given fresh motivation to the work of protecting the life of the unborn.

“It is a calculated risk to be sure, but I believe it is a fight worth fighting,” said Sen. Brock Greenfield, a Republican who is also director of South Dakota Right to Life.

South Dakota is the first of six states currently working to bring in legislature that would see a broad ban placed on abortion. Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee have anti-abortion legislation in various stages moving towards full implementation.