South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said he is nearly ready to sign a bill designed to challenge the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down state abortion laws.
Rounds said yesterday his “style-and- form veto” requests only technical changes to the bill for the purpose of ensuring current state laws restricting abortion would not be jeopardized if the new legislation is challenged in court.
Because of the changes, however, the state House and Senate could reject the bill. They will be asked to concur by a majority vote Monday before the governor signs it into law.
Notably, two pro-life groups, South Dakota Right to Life and National Right to Life, oppose the bill, insisting it is not the right time to attempt a ban on abortions.
A public interest law firm that aided in the bill’s drafting dismissed that notion.
“When is it the wrong time to do what is right?” asked Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center. “After 31 years and 40 million murdered babies under Roe v. Wade, it is essential that we continue to confront the court with their immoral and lawless decision that has no basis in the Constitution, history or traditions of our nation.”
Thompson said the bill represents a “truly groundbreaking effort” he hopes other states would follow.
The bill’s main sponsor, state Rep. Matt McCaulley, said he was pleased with the governor’s actions.
“South Dakota is doing the right thing,” he said, “fulfilling its duty to protect all human life.”
In January, McCaulley said the decision whether to allow abortion 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,” he said.
“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,” he argued.
Thompson has acknowledged a court battle likely 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. T
The law would make the crime of abortion punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.