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South Dakota legislature passes abortion ban

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-02-23T003730Z_01_N22531791_RTRUKOC_0_US-RIGHTS-ABORTION.xml South Dakota legislature
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2006
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      http://today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-02-23T003730Z_01_N22531791_RTRUKOC_0_US-RIGHTS-ABORTION.xml

      South Dakota legislature passes abortion ban
      Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:37 PM ET166

      SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (Reuters) - South Dakota's
      state senate voted on Wednesday for an abortion ban
      aimed at giving the conservative-tilting Supreme Court
      an opening to overturn rulings granting women the
      right to the procedure.

      Only an unlikely veto by Republican Gov. Michael
      Rounds could prevent the legislation from becoming
      law, people on both sides of the issue said.

      "We hope (Rounds) recognizes this for what it is: a
      political tool and not about the health and safety of
      the women of South Dakota," said Kate Looby of Planned
      Parenthood, which operates the sole clinic providing
      abortions in South Dakota.

      "If he chooses to sign it, we will be filing a lawsuit
      in short order to block it," she said after attending
      the afternoon debate at the state capitol in Pierre.

      Proponents have said the law was designed for just
      such a court challenge.

      The timing is right, supporters say, given the recent
      appointments of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice
      Samuel Alito to the high court. The two conservatives
      could pave the way to a decision overturning Roe v.
      Wade, the 1973 ruling said women have a constitutional
      right to abortion.

      The high court said on Tuesday it will rule on whether
      the federal government can ban some abortion
      procedures, a case that could reveal whether the court
      reshaped by President George W. Bush will restrict
      abortion rights.

      Five states have proposed similar bans, but South
      Dakota's legislature was the first to pass a law,
      which threatens to punish doctors who perform
      abortions with a five-year prison term and $5,000
      fine.

      Proposed amendments to the law to create exceptions to
      specifically protect the health of the mother, or in
      cases of rape or incest, were voted down. Also
      defeated was an amendment to put the proposal in the
      hands of voters.

      The bill as written does make an exception if the
      fetus dies during a doctor's attempt to save the
      mother's life.

      Two years ago, Rounds vetoed a similar bill, saying it
      would wipe out existing restrictions on abortion while
      it was fought in the courts. A rewritten bill lost
      narrowly.

      Some legislators opposed to abortion rights questioned
      whether it was premature to challenge Roe v. Wade, and
      said litigation would prove expensive for the sparsely
      populated state. An anonymous donor has offered $1
      million to the state to defray the costs of litigation.
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