The “South Dakota Women’s Health and Human Life Protection Act (HB 1215)” was voted down Tuesday November 7th, striking a blow to the religious right. The law, based on dubious “scientific” studies was designed as a test case to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court with the express purpose of overturning 1973s Row v Wade case. It was of course objected to almost immediately after Governor Mike Rounds signed it into law on March 6, 2006.
The legislation as enacted by a wide margin, was slated to go into effect in July. Some speculate it was intentionally timed to sway disenchanted Republican far-right voters to the polls in November. Both sides of the issue reportedly spent roughly $2 million each. In the end, according to early poll numbers the law was defeated by a margin of approximately 10 percent of the voters.
A portion of Section 1 reads as follows:
“…based upon written materials, scientific studies, and testimony of witnesses presented to the task force, that life begins at the time of conception, a conclusion confirmed by scientific advances since the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, including the fact that each human being is totally unique immediately at fertilization.”
The law strongly championed by the evangelical religious right would’ve strictly banned all abortions, even if the pregnancy were the result of incest or rape. It defined a pregnancy as from fertilization to full gestation. The legislation would only allow the exception of if a mother’s life was in danger, and even then, it was mandated that all means were to be used to save the life of the unborn child equally with the mother.
In an obvious bow to the fundamentalist voters of the state, another part of Section 1 reads:
“…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.”
Oddly enough, the only parties punished are the doctors involved in the procedure. An amendment to Section 4 reads in part:
Nothing in this Act may be construed to subject the pregnant mother upon whom any abortion is performed or attempted to any criminal conviction and penalty
And a amendment to Section 2 spells out strict punishment to any doctors who do.
"No person may knowingly administer to, prescribe for, or procure for, or sell to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, or other substance with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being. No person may knowingly use or employ any instrument or procedure upon a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being."
Any violation of this section would be punished as a Class 5 felony.