A new memo released by a South Dakota State Medical Association (SDSMA) lawyer concludes that under the changes to the state’s homicide laws in 2005, abortion providers could be charged with murder should the recently passed abortion ban take effect.
South Dakota’s homicide law was altered in 2005 to make the premeditated killing of “any unborn child” first-degree murder. However, South Dakota currently has other state laws that make providing abortions legal, despite this provision of the homicide law. If the abortion ban passed in March takes effect, then it is possible that abortion providers could be charged with first-degree murder under the homicide law, in addition to being charged under the anti-abortion law, according to the Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report.
The abortion ban, which provides an exception only to prevent the death of a pregnant woman, was originally supposed to go into effect this month, but pro-choice activists collected enough petition signatures to stay the ban and place it on the 2006 ballot as a referendum so voters can weigh in. Anti-choice activists intend to use the law and subsequent legal challenges to force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.