South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem took a page out of the Lone Star state's playbook this week, proposing a bill modeled after a controversial Texas measure that would ban nearly all abortions.
It's not exactly a surprise: Noem has been talking about such a proposal for weeks. The law, if passed, would bar women from obtaining an abortion after fetal cardiac activity begins, which amounts to roughly six weeks — often before someone knows they are pregnant.
And it's not just the ban itself that chills critics, it's the mechanism by which it accomplishes its goal: incentivizing anyone in the United States to sue those who aid women in seeking abortions, with a minimum $10,000 penalty.
It's nearly identical to a controversial Texas law passed last year, which inspired heated pushback after a series of appeals courts ruled that the measure be allowed to remain in effect while court challenges proceed. Critics have blasted the new law for setting up a "vigilante" justice system that skirts the longstanding precedent guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion, which was established in the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade.
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Last month, the conservative-majority Supreme Court sent the measure back to a federal appeals court — one that has already ruled in favor of the measure twice.
In South Dakota, at least, the bill comes at the tail end of a yearslong battle to strip women of their access to abortion: There is just one clinic in the entire state that offers the procedures. Just 10 women there received an abortion in 2020, according to CBS News, which cited the most recent data available.
In a statement, Noem called for the Supreme Court to strike down Roe v. Wade, adding, "until that comes to pass, these bills will ensure that both unborn children and their mothers are protected in South Dakota."
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