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Monday, March 06, 2006

BREAKING NEWS ~ South Dakota governor signs bill banning most abortions
Jeannie Shawl at 1:36 PM ET

[JURIST] AP is reporting that South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds [official website] has signed legislation that will ban most abortions in the state, excluding only those necessary to save a woman's life. Under the bill [text], approved by the state legislature [JURIST report] last month, doctors who perform abortions will face up to five years in jail.

The bill was designed as a direct attack on Roe v. Wade [text], and its supporters hope that a court challenge to the legislation will result in the US Supreme Court revisiting its decision in the landmark abortion case. Planned Parenthood [advocacy website] has already said it intends to challenge the law. A similar ban [JURIST report] is being considered in Mississippi, and last week a legislative committee in that state approved the bill and sent it on for consideration by the state legislature.

3:03 PM ET - In signing the legislation, Gov. Rounds said:

I have signed House Bill 1215 into law. It is An Act to establish certain legislative findings, to reinstate the prohibition against certain acts causing the termination of an unborn human life, to prescribe a penalty therefore, and to provide for the implementation of such provisions under certain circumstances.

HB 1215 passed South Dakota's legislature with bi-partisan sponsorship and strong bi-partisan support in both houses. Its purpose is to eliminate most abortions in South Dakota. It does allow doctors to perform abortions in order to save the life of the mother. It does not prohibit the taking of contraceptive drugs before a pregnancy is determined, such as in the case of rape or incest. ...

Because this new law is a direct challenge to the Roe versus Wade interpretation of the Constitution, I expect this law will be taken to court and prevented from going into effect this July. That challenge will likely take years to be settled and it may ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court. Our existing laws regulating abortions will remain in effect.

The reversal of a Supreme Court opinion is possible. For example, in 1896, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Plessy versus Fergusoncase that a state could require racial segregation in public facilities if the facilities offered to different races were equal. However, fifty-eight years later, the Supreme Court reconsidered that opinion and reversed itself in Brown versus Board of Education. It proclaimed that separate could not produce equal. The 1954 Court realized that the earlier interpretation of our Constitution was wrong.

HB 1215 will give the United States Supreme Court a similar opportunity to reconsider an earlier opinion.
Read Round's full signing statement [text]. AP has more.

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