SD: Governor Signs into Law the Nation’s Toughest Anti-Abortion Bills

Governor Michael Rounds (R) signed four of the nation’s toughest anti-abortion bills into law last week that will drastically restrict a woman’s right to choose in South Dakota. The first requires doctors to inform women who seek an abortion that they will be terminating the life of “a whole, separate, unique, living human being” with which the woman has “an existing relationship” that is protected by the US Constitution and the laws of South Dakota, the National Post reports.

Another law signed by Rounds would outlaw abortion in the state if the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose was no longer protected by the federal government. The bill, known as a “trigger statute” and sponsored by state Representative Joel Dykstra (R), would not offer exceptions for rape or incest or for the health of the woman, but only for the life of the woman. The bill would make performing an abortion a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison.

Shortly after signing the trigger statute, Rounds discovered that through sloppy wording, the law inadvertently ended the state’s ability to even regulate abortion until such time as Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Associate Press, which individual states are currently allowed to do. Emergency legislation to fix the flaw was introduced earlier this week and passed with little discussion or debate, just in time before the state’s legislative session ends.

The third bill signed by the governor would require parental notification within 24 hours of a minor having an emergency abortion, unless the minor could obtain a court order permitting confidentiality. Under the current law, parental notification is not required for emergency abortions. The final bill signed creates a state task force intended to study the history of abortion since it became a constitutionally protected right in 1973.

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Associated Press 3/22/05, 3/18/05, 3/21/05; National Post 3/19/05; Feminist Daily News Wire 2/16/05

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