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Missed this…

Somehow, this escaped my radar…

You may remember that South Dakota was all ready to pass legislation banning abortion, and the governor was ready to sign it. Turns out the bill was defeated, and many are wondering what’s going on with National Right to Life

Shock waves are still reverberating one week after South Dakota’s bill criminalizing abortion was defeated by a single vote over National Right to Life’s complicity with pro-abortion groups to kill the legislation that pro-abortion lobbyists called the most restrictive anti-abortion measure since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The Bill was sponsored by Republican State Representative Matt McCaulley who had asked the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to help draft a bill that would directly confront the holding of the Roe decision. As a result, House Bill 1191 banned virtually all abortions in that state and made it a felony punishable for up to 15 years.


Immediately after the Bill was announced, National Right to Life spokespersons and officers of their state affiliate opposed passage of the bill as not being the right time.

However, another story indicates that the problem was – as it often is – a health exception.

Though the bill was initially hailed as an attempt to overturn the landmark Supreme Court decision allowing abortions, the state Senate earlier added a health exception that some pro-life advocates say gutted the intent of the bill. They worried the exception would allow an abortion practitioner to determine when an abortion is “needed” to protect a woman’s health and that all abortions could be labeled as necessary.


State Sen. Jay Duenwald (R) wrote a letter to Rounds and said that “without an objective standard for health [nothing will] prevent this exception from turning into a gigantic loophole.” The health exception “creates a subjective standard for what counts as a risk to the health of the mother, focused on the intent of the doctor performing the abortion.”

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Chris Burgwald

posted March 23, 2004 at 9:27 am

The big question mark in this is Governor Rounds, who is a strong Catholic Republican who ran in the primary in ’02 as a strong, principled pro-lifer. But when the bill made it to his desk, he issued a “style & form veto,” sending it back to the Legislature for some changes to ensure that South Dakota’s current abortion restrictions remain in place if this bill had been signed, challenged (as it would have been), and overturned. Now, that makes sense, but the problem is, there was nothing in the bill that addressed those other restrictions, making it difficult to understand how they could have been threatened if this bill/law and been overturned.
Futhermore, the House & Sentate primary sponsors both told Rounds — when he called them to say that he was going to issue a “style and form veto” — that they now didn’t have the votes to get the bill through again (one senator who’d voted for the bill said he’d never do so again), yet — as far as anyone knows — Rounds did nothing to work the senators (the house was a piece of cake) to get the bill through. Furthermore, when it failed in the senate, he expressed surprise at the fact, which makes no sense in light of the fact that both primary sponsors had told him they didn’t have sufficient votes in the senate.
So both NRL and Gov. Rounds have a lot of pro-lifers in South Dakota wondering what’s going on.

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T. Marzen

posted March 23, 2004 at 10:07 am

A lot of prolifers in South Dakota SHOULD be wondering on why they were being led on this fool’s errand. Who is responsible for this silly exercise in futility? Such a ban on abortion has no chance whatever of surviving in the courts. Zero. None. Nada. So what on earth is the point?
It’s not Gov. Rounds and the NRLC affiliate who should be called on the carpet, but those responsible for supporting this legislation and for trashing those who quite sensibly opposed it for squandering prolife resources.
There are many probably or possibly constitutional forms of legislation that might actually reduce the number of abortions or persuade women not to choose it. Why not work to enact these laws instead of spending a lot of prolife political capital on an utterly meaningless and contraproductive gesture?
South Dakota has two proabortion U.S. Senators, one of whom is minority leader and up for reelection this fall. Now, why is prolife time, money, and energy being wasted on legislation of this sort when it could be used on the Daschle campaign? Talk about trading symbolism for substance.

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posted March 23, 2004 at 12:50 pm

Legislation like this shouldn’t pass until we have a Supreme Court that may be willing to revisit Roe v. Wade. Lets say this law had passed, made it to the Supreme Court, they overturn it (upholding Roe) and then three weeks later a liberal justice resigns or dies. What good was done? None. Harm was done, actually. No, we need to wait until one of the five pro-abortion justices is replaced.

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posted March 23, 2004 at 1:23 pm

Ha! The NRLC/ALL dispute again comes to the center stage!! Its amazing the lengths that criticism of opposing “prudential” estimates will sink to. . . .

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posted March 23, 2004 at 2:43 pm

T. Marzen:
Catholic Exchange said it best when they quoted Martin Luther King when he also was questioned on the timing of what he proposed:
“Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that, “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
So I ask, when is it the right time?

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T. Marzen

posted March 23, 2004 at 3:28 pm

Oh boy, invoking MLK in favor of useless and expensive gestures! The “right time” for such legislation is when there is a reasonable prospect for success without causing disproportionate harm to the cause (by way of several hundreds of thousands of $$$ in attorney’s fees awarded to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU and misdirection of prolife efforts, time, and money).
Apply Just War Theory, and it follows that this is an unjust war to wage: There is no reasonable possibility (much less probability) of success, and it will sap prolife purposes and resources without saving a single baby.
And it’s dumb public relations: Instead of talking about the big kids being killed by having their brains sucked out while their heads are outside their mothers’ bodies (current state and federal partial-birth abortion laws), we’d be defending a law that would forbid minor girls with kidney failure and pregnant from incestuous rape who carrying children without brains from getting abortions.

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Chris Burgwald

posted March 23, 2004 at 10:14 pm

It should be noted that a number of folks (Gerald Bradley, Charles Rice, Harold Cassidy) argued that the SD bill contained findings which the Court had not addressed before, and hence stood a chance of being upheld, and hence overturning RvW.
Of course, good people can disagree on matters of prudence, as did NRL. But Gov. Rounds never advanced that position; if it was in fact his intention to indirectly kill the bill, he was dishonest and disingenuous in his public and private remarks concerning the bill; yet if it *wasn’t* his intention to kill it, he still needs to explain his behavior, as I outlined it in my first comment.

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