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Governor's pen poised
to ignite Roe battle

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds

A highly restrictive bill aimed ultimately at overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling is sitting on the desk of South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, poised to spark an intense and expensive legal battle should he sign it.

The legislation, passed this month by state lawmakers, would ban abortion in nearly every case and punish doctors who perform one with a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.

The bill would allow abortion only in the event a mother’s life is in danger, making no exception for rape or incest.

Rounds, a Republican, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he is carefully examining the bill and could approve it in the coming weeks.

“If the bill is correctly written, then I will seriously consider signing the bill. It would be a direct frontal assault on Roe vs. Wade,” he said Saturday.

South Dakota Planned Parenthood, which operates the state’s sole abortion clinic, has indicated it will challenge the bill if passed.

But already an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to help the state defend the law, according to Reuters.

Yesterday, Rounds was in Washington for a National Governors Association meeting where he found more pledges of donations and the support of some of his colleagues across the nation.

“There is a lot of interest in it here,” Rounds said, according to the Associated Press. “And there are a number of states that have similar legislation. A lot of governors expressing support and wishing us good luck and suggesting that they will have similar types of proposals that may very well be favorably looked upon across the United States.”

State lawmakers in Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana also are considering legislation that would heavily restrict abortions.

National pro-life activists, who are urging supporters to send $10 to Rounds to support the state’s defense, chose South Dakota as its first vehicle to challenge the Roe decision.

They believe that if a legal challenge ever reaches high court, the recent addition of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the bench makes it more disposed than ever to overturn the 1973 ruling.

Troy Newman, president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, said the legislation “is the beginning of a momentum that is sweeping across the country,” according to Reuters.

As WorldNetDaily reported, South Dakota’s House of Representatives passed a similar bill in 2004 by a 54-14 vote, before its narrow defeat in the Senate, 18-17. The bill actually initially passed the Senate, but Rounds issued a “style and form” veto, sending 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 points out new scientific discoveries that bolster his case.

“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.”

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.

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Previous stories:

State lawmakers defy Roe ruling

Pro-life groups divide over abortion ban

Governor prepared to sign ‘Roe’ challenge

South Dakota legislation challenges Roe vs. Wade