South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds today signed into law a bill banning most abortions in the state. The only exception to the ban is to save the life of the mother. The South Dakota Legislature specifically rejected amendments that would have created exceptions for the mother’s health or in the case of rape or incest.
In a written statement, Rounds said, “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. 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.”
Promoters of the bill urged it as an opportunity to have the U.S. Supreme Court revisit the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In his statement, Rounds acknowledge that the law was a “direct challenge” to that decision and that it “is possible” the Supreme Court might reverse Roe.
Planned Parenthood of South Dakota has indicated it will challenge the constitutionality of the law, which would go into effect July 1. It is anticipated any litigation would suspend the law until the court challenges are concluded.
In addition, the South Dakota Constitution and state law allow voters to refer a measure passed by the Legislature to a public vote. There has been discussion of such a referendum. Petitions would have to be signed by 16,728 of the state’s registered voters and filed with the South Dakota Secretary of State within 90 days of the legislature’s adjournment. The last day of the this year’s session of the South Dakota Legislature is scheduled for March 20. During debate on the bill, the state Senate rejected an amendment that would have put the measure on the ballot.