More from the abortion battleground

Louisiana governor signs abortion ban into law and Supreme Court will reconsider federal abortion case. In better news, South Dakotans get repeal initiative on ballot.

Published June 20, 2006 9:25PM (EDT)

It's been a busy few days on the abortion battleground: On Saturday, taking a page out of South Dakota's playbook, the governor of Louisiana signed into law a ban on abortion that would go into effect should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that gave women the right to have an abortion.

And yesterday, the highest court in the land decided it would further reexamine whether the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which was signed by Congress and President Bush in 2003, is unconstitutional because it provides no exceptions for the health of women. (Back in February, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a similar case from Nebraska, which opposed the law because it didn't include such health protections. Though the act was signed three years ago, it has never gone into effect because it has been tied up in court.) The new case, brought by Planned Parenthood of California, charges that the federal law is too vague and imposes an undue burden on women. "This abortion ban would forbid doctors from providing their patients with the care they believe is safest and best, and would give Congress and states a green light to endanger women's health when they restrict women's access to abortion," said Eve Gartner, who represents Planned Parenthood. "This dangerous law should be struck down, sending a message to politicians to stop legislating medicine."

Both the California and the Nebraska cases will be decided in the upcoming court term that begins in October. But the stakes are especially high now -- since abortion rights advocates fear that new conservative Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito could vote in favor of abortion restrictions.

In other news, South Dakota announced that this fall voters will have the chance to decide if they want to keep the state's recent abortion ban, which also provides no exceptions for rape or incest. How about a round of hands for the abortion rights supporters who gathered the needed 16,728 signatures to put an initiative to repeal the law on the November ballot?

By Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at

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