PIERRE, S.D. (BP)–In an action that supporters hope will result in the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds March 6 signed a bill into law that bans nearly all abortions in the state.
Rounds’ signature was historic, marking the first time since the 1973 Roe ruling that a state has adopted such a wide-sweeping ban on abortion. The law, which would take effect July 1 if not overturned, bans all abortions except in cases to save the mother’s life.
Planned Parenthood, which owns the state’s only abortion clinic, is expected to file suit in federal court and have the law overturned. The bill’s supporters acknowledge that it likely will be struck down but they hope to see the Supreme Court take up the case and reconsider its decision in Roe, which legalized abortion nationwide.
“In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society,” Rounds, a Republican, said in a statement. “The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them.”
The bill passed the South Dakota House of Representatives in late February, 50-18, and the state Senate, 23-12. It received support from both Republicans and Democrats, men and women. The bill’s Senate sponsor was a female Democrat.
The law makes it a felony for anyone to perform an abortion, although the mother would not be charged with a crime. The law does not ban so-called “morning after pills,” which can prevent the implantation of an embryo into the womb.
The new law — dubbed the Women’s Health and Human Life Protection Act — states that “life begins at the time of conception” and that an unborn child “is totally unique immediately at fertilization.” It further asserts that abortion must be banned 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.”
Rounds, in fact, made it a point to say that pro-lifers must embrace and counsel women who are facing an unwanted pregnancy.
“If we are pro-life, we must recognize the need to take care of women who are faced with a difficult pregnancy,” he said. “Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy, we cannot protect the innocent child, unless we protect and care for the mother. We must help each mother to see the value of the gift that is a child, and nurture the mother for her own sake and for the sake of her child.”
Other state’s are considering similar legislation. Mississippi’s House of Representatives passed an abortion ban March 2 that provides exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
This story will be updated.