Monday, February 19, 2007

Both sides inspired by S.D. bans on abortion: Lawmakers from other states try similar bills

The fight to overturn Roe v. Wade didn't start in South Dakota, but this state has served as inspiration to state legislatures and groups working to ban abortion.

While some think the failure at the polls of last year's ban - with an exception only to save a woman's life - slowed down the momentum of the movement, others were encouraged the issue was put in the national spotlight. "The thing that made South Dakota such a tremendous inspiration, even in the defeat, is they had pushed forward to truly ban abortion," said Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, a national Catholic antiabortion organization that supported last year's ban.

"It inspired other lawmakers to take a look at what they could do."

The ban's defeat also encouraged abortion-rights groups that say South Dakotans - with a 56 percent to 44 percent vote -- spoke against government intrusion in private decisions. "Those anti-choice politicians are out of step with the public," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "The American public is tired of the divisiveness and don't believe (government) should be making this decision for them."

Of the 12 bans introduced in state legislatures last year, only South Dakota's ban passed and was signed by the governor.

So far this year, a number of states - including North Dakota, Georgia, Utah and Mississippi - again have pushed for bans. Several have similar language to South Dakota's latest bill, which has exceptions for cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life of a pregnant woman or to keep a woman from being irreparably damaged physically by pregnancy.

High hopes

Lawmakers in Mississippi now are considering a ban with exceptions similar to South Dakota's. The bill appears to be stalled by a committee chairman who says he won't hear any more anti-abortion legislation this year. Tanya Britton, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, said she was encouraged by South Dakota's bans and has hope for a similar ban in her state. [....snip] Sioux Falls ArgusLeader

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