With a reversal of Roe v. Wade as its ultimate aim, South Dakota’s House of Representatives passed a bill today that would criminalize all abortions except for when a mother is in danger of dying.
The penalty for performing illegal abortions would be a maximum of five years in prison.
Supporters say the Woman’s Health and Life Protection Act, which passed 47-22, is the result of new research compiled by a legislative task force showing life begins at conception and abortion is harmful to women.
As WorldNetDaily reported, a similar bill passed the state House in 2004 by a 54-14 vote, before its narrow defeat in the Senate, 18-17. The bill actually initially passed the Senate, but Gov. Mike Rounds, known for his pro-life voting record as a member of the South Dakota legislature, issued a “style and form” veto. Rounds sent the bill back with wording changes to make sure existing abortion restrictions were not threatened if the bill were struck down in court.
One senator, however, who saw this as overstepping authority, changed his vote, which defeated the bill.
But corrections have been made to the bill, said state Rep. Roger Hunt, who believes now is the right time to overturn the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that rescinded all state laws banning abortion.
“DNA testing now can establish the unborn child has a separate and distinct personality from the mother,” he told KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, S.D. “We know a lot more about post-abortion harm to the mother.”
The bill now heads to the state Senate.
In 2004, two pro-life groups clashed over the demise of the previous measure. The public-interest Thomas More Law Center, which helped draft the bill, accused National Right to Life of “complicity” with pro-abortion groups for lobbying against it.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the More Center concluded, “One thing we know for sure, Planned Parenthood and NARAL could not be happier with National Right To Life.”
In response, National Right to Life called the charge of joining forces with pro-abortion groups “absurd, untrue, and unproductive.”
The pro-life group argued the bill was made virtually ineffective through a “health exception,” which allowed abortion “if there is a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
The More Center insisted, despite the exception, the bill still required doctors to use reasonable medical efforts to preserve the life of the unborn child as well as the mother.
Republican state Rep. Elizabeth Kraus, a former medical technologist, said the new bill, HB1215, can be the legal means of stopping abortion, according to the Associated Press.
“The state cannot continue to protect the abortion practice, for the right and duty to preserve life cannot coexist with the right to destroy it,” Kraus said.
The House rejected amendments that would provide exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother. But doctors who perform abortions on a woman in danger of dying would not be prosecuted.
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