South Dakota Legislature passes abortion ban

The governor is likely to sign a bill that would make performing an abortion a crime.

Published February 24, 2006 8:57PM (EST)

Just as we'd feared, MSBNC reports that today that the South Dakota House passed legislation that would outlaw abortion, without exception for rape or incest. Under the bill (which had already been passed by the Senate), abortion would be legal in South Dakota only to save the life of the pregnant woman, and the crime of performing an illegal abortion could carry a sentence of up to five years.

Now the abortion ban goes to the desk of Gov. Mike Rounds, who has indicated that he will likely sign the bill into law. If he does, the new rule will go into effect July 1. The master plan, of course, is not to just outlaw the 800 or so abortions performed annually in South Dakota, but to challenge Roe v. Wade before the new, more conservative Supreme Court.

Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls, has already pledged to sue to overturn the law, calling it the most sweeping abortion ban any state has passed in more than a decade. And an anonymous, private donor has promised $1 million to help the state legally defend the law as it wends its way toward the Supreme Court.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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