SD: Bill to Ban Most Abortions Goes to Governor for Signature
A bill that would ban almost all abortions in South Dakota was passed by the state House on Wednesday. The bill, previously amended and passed by the state Senate, now goes to Governor Mike Rounds (R), sometime next week. Rounds has not indicated whether he will sign the bill, but he has previously stated that Roe was wrongly decided, and as a state senator his voting record was anti-abortion, according to the Boston Globe. If this bill does become law, it is expected to be face immediate legal challenges.
The bill defines life as beginning at conception. As it was originally written, it would have banned all abortions, with an exception only to save the life of the woman. The Senate amended the bill to allow abortions if a major bodily function of the woman was threatened, according to the Aberdeen News. The House retained this amendment in the final version of the bill. An amendment to add an exception for victims of rape or incest was narrowly defeated in the Senate. Under the bill, women who undergo illegal abortions would not be prosecuted, but physicians who perform them could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, according to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.
"In a bold maneuver, a vocal minority aggressively seeks to strip women in South Dakota of their basic reproductive rights," said Beth Jordan, MD, Medical Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "Not only are abortion rights being attacked, but contraception is as well. South Dakota even refuses to mandate that hospitals offer rape victims emergency contraception and further punishes its women by refusing, in this current bill, to sanction abortion even in cases of rape or incest."
The bill's author, Rep. Matt McCaulley (R-Sioux Falls), working with lawyers from the right-wing Thomas More Law Center in Michigan, hopes to use the bill to challenge Roe v. Wade. However, legal scholars believe such a challenge would be costly for South Dakota and ultimately unsuccessful. "This court is not going to overturn Roe," said University of Tulsa law professor and constitutional scholar Paul Finkelman, according to the Globe. "I don't think the votes are there." Political Science Professor Christopher Wolfe of Marquette University, who opposes legal abortion, believes that "until some of the justices on the court who support such abortion rights are replaced," Roe will remain intact, the Globe reports. Advocates on both sides of the abortion issue anticipate up to three Court vacancies in the next few years.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. The court's decision denied their request to temporarily block the legislation pending a final ruling on its constitutionality, rubber stamping the efforts of Oklahoma politicians to force doctors to use an outdated protocol for administering a medication abortion using the drug mifepristone - one that the medical community and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have rejected in favor of a new standard of care that calls for a significantly lower dosage. . . .
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .
10/29/2014 Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People - A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state.
Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations.
More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls. . . .