A South Dakota legislator is hoping his bill outlawing nearly all abortions in the state will be the catalyst for overturning the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which was handed down exactly 31 years ago.

Rep. Matt McCaulley introduced the bill, House Bill 1191, today. It makes abortion a crime unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother, explained the Thomas More Law Center, which helped in drafting the legislation.

According to a statement form the center, the bill already has the support of a majority of members of both the state House and Senate. It was designed to “directly confront” Roe v. Wade, which overturned laws against abortion in all 50 states.

“This is a decision that should be made by the people in each of the states through their elected representatives, not by nine un-elected judges in a courtroom 1,500 miles from the capitol of South Dakota. This bill puts South Dakota in the forefront of the nation and says we will lead the fight to protect unborn children,” said McCaulley, a Republican who was 4 months old when the high-court decision came down.

“Medical and scientific discoveries over the last 30 years have confirmed that life begins at conception, a question the Roe Court said they could not answer.”

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the center, acknowledged a likely court battle would ensue if the legislation is passed.

“Roe v. Wade was an exercise of raw judicial power not based on any reasonable interpretation of the constitutional text,” said Thompson. “The Roe decision carries the same moral implications as the Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery by regarding a segment of our population as non-persons. The court was wrong then, and the court is wrong now. We have a moral responsibility to confront this lawless decision whenever the opportunity presents itself.”

The bill provides for exceptions to protect the life of the mother if birth or continued pregnancy constitutes a clear and immediate threat of death to the mother or serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function. The law would make the crime of abortion punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The law center says the bill is expected to pass both Houses handily. Gov. Mike Rounds “has previously vowed to protect life under all circumstances,” the statement said.

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