The South Dakota state House has passed a bill that would outlaw abortion and challenge the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision.
Approved 54 to 14 after two hours of emotional debate Tuesday, the bill would make the practice of abortion a felony carrying a five-year sentence.
A public-interest law firm that worked with lawmakers to draft the bill says it is designed to have the U.S. Supreme Court reconsider its 1973 Roe decision, which struck down state laws banning abortion.
“This is new and unique legislation that has never been considered by the Supreme Court,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. ” … While we cannot predict the future, we do know that this legislation establishes significant facts that the courts will not be able to ignore.”
House Bill 1191, sponsored by Rep. Matt McCaulley, says the legislature determined that based on the best scientific and medical evidence, life begins at fertilization and that South Dakota’s Bill of Rights applies equally to born and unborn human beings.
The bill also finds abortions impose significant risks to the health and life of the pregnant mother, including significant risk of suicide, depression and other post- traumatic disorders.
“Abortion is an important moral issue that transcends party lines,” McCaulley said. “Protecting unborn human life is something the vast majority of South Dakota residents support, and Democrats and Republicans joined together and passed a bill that will protect unborn human life in our state. We are ready to fight for the right to life, as opposed to waiting for it.”
The bill now goes to the Senate where support continues to be strong, the More Center said, noting South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds is pro-life.
The bill requires physicians to make every effort to preserve the life of both the mother and her unborn child.
Committee testimony on the bill included women who recounted their personal grief, severe depression and thoughts of suicide after having an abortions. Planned Parenthood representatives strongly opposed the measure, but the panel passed it 11-2, sending it to the House for Tuesday’s vote.