South Dakota Preps The Field For Roe Reversal

In an effort to instigate a Supreme Court battle over women’s reproductive choice, the South Dakota House overwhelmingly approved legislation making abortion illegal in the state.

Citing controversial conclusions by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion, the bill states that scientific studies and scientific advances show that life begins at conception, and “each human being is totally unique immediately at fertilization.”

The bill further says that in order “to fully protect the rights, interests, and health of the pregnant mother, the rights, interest, and life of her unborn child, and the mother’s fundamental natural intrinsic right to a relationship with her child, abortions in South Dakota should be prohibited.”

If this effort is successful, South Dakota may very well prove to be much more powerful to the anti-choice cause than it’s mere 3 electoral votes would indicate.

Anti-abortion activists have long focused on South Dakota as a platform for their strategy to outlaw the practice nationally. According to a February 2004 story in the Boston Globe, anti-abortion activists from New Jersey, California and other states had traveled to South Dakota to support sympathetic lawmakers in their pursuit of abortion bans.

While a number of states have laws restricting abortions rights or even banning abortion altogether, the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade prevents states from enforcing these laws. However, anti-abortion activists believe new state-level laws will force the issue through the courts, ultimately bringing the issue of reversing Roe before the Supreme Court.

“What the public doesn’t realize is that the building blocks are already in place to re-criminalize abortion if Roe is overturned,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, told the LA Times.

Representative Roger Hunt (R-Brandon), the chief sponsor of the South Dakota bill, said the timing is right for the “Women’s Health and Human Life Protection Act,” in the wake of the new Supreme Court appointments: conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

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