Monday, April 10, 2006

Move to Overturn S.D. Abortion Ban Gains Ground

It's from The Boston Globe, so take this report with a grain of salt:
STURGIS, S.D. -- Volunteers pushing to overturn the nation's most far-reaching abortion ban are surprised and delighted by the response as they circulate petitions to put the law up for a public vote.

Even in the most conservative corners of this conservative state, Republicans and Democrats -- including some voters who say they oppose abortion -- are eagerly signing the petition. In two weeks, volunteers have collected a third of the signatures they need to get a November referendum on the ban.

Some voters dismiss the abortion rights activists as out of touch with South Dakotan values. ''People here have a sense of morals and ethics," said Darcy Patterson, 40. ''I don't want to change the law."

But many others say their legislators went too far when they voted last month to prohibit all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, unless the mother's life is at stake.

The law asserting that embryos have an ''unalienable right to life" from the moment of conception is set to take effect July 1. Women will not face charges for ending pregnancies, but doctors who help them could get up to five years in prison. Even if they believe an abortion is necessary to preserve a woman's life, physicians must do all they can to save the fetus.

The abortion ban passed overwhelmingly: 23 to 12 in the Senate and 50 to 18 in the House.

Supporters expected the measure to draw an immediate court challenge from Planned Parenthood, which operates the only clinic providing abortions in South Dakota. Abortion opponents wanted a legal fight that could lead the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion.

But abortion rights forces chose not to sue. Instead, they are appealing directly to voters.

Even opponents expect the campaign to easily collect the 17,000 valid signatures needed to put the referendum on the ballot. That would put the abortion law into legal limbo, on hold until the November election. If voters reject the law, it will be stricken from the books. If they uphold it, abortion rights activists can still sue to block its enforcement.

My Comments:
I'm sure the Globe is painting a rosier picture for the pro-aborts than actually exists on the ground in South Dakota. Still, one wonders if this is the beginning of the backlash against the pro-life movement that many of us feared.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
The GOP's Abortion Anxiety - Why GOP Leaders Worry About Pro-Life Wins

Why Abortion Bans May Not Be the Answer Now - Clarke Forsythe on Judicial Strategies

A Strong Argument in Favor of the South Dakota Abortion Ban

Justice Scalia Agrees with Former Mayor of Columbia, VA on Roe v. Wade

South Dakota Abortion Ban Becomes Law

Joseph Bottum: South Dakota Anti-Abortion Legislation a "Tactical Error"

Fidelis Urges South Dakota Governor to Protect Women and Sign Abortion Ban

Bill Introduced to "Stop Abortion in Ohio"

South Dakota Passes Abortion Ban


At 4/10/2006 10:55 AM, Blogger Darwin said...

Get ready for irony central is the bill is upheld by the popular vote. Then the proborts who cared so much about the 'will of the people' will immediately sue to block that same will.

If the ballot initiative process in SD is anything like what we had in California, it's way, way easier to get something on the ballot than actually to win. Plus, some people will sign to get anything on the ballot on the assumption that everything deserves an up or down vote.

It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. While on the one hand I think there's a real danger for pro-life momentum if we lose in the popular vote, if we win that will really get some attention.

At 4/10/2006 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how many people signing the petition are doing so only because they think the timing of the bill (and the suitability of such a very strong bill as a test case for Roe) was abysmal and likely to do more harm than good.

At 4/10/2006 11:29 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"I wonder how many people signing the petition are doing so only because they think the timing of the bill (and the suitability of such a very strong bill as a test case for Roe) was abysmal and likely to do more harm than good."

Unfortunately for those who might think that way (and I'm sure there are more than a few), repealing the law by referendum would probably do more harm to the pro-life cause than if the law were struck down by the Supreme Court.

At 4/10/2006 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're right, though the Supreme Court striking it down would do a great deal of damage. Some will no doubt want to make this thing go away in the only way they can.

At 4/11/2006 2:35 PM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

If it makes it to the ballot, I am confident that the abortion ban will be sustained in a landslide.


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