Tuesday, March 07, 2006

SD Governor Signs Abortion Ban

Governor Rounds has signed the bill:

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed a bill Monday that bans nearly all abortions in the state, legislation in direct conflict with the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973.


"The reversal of a Supreme Court opinion is possible," Rounds said, pointing to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that reversed the 1896 ruling that states could segregate public facilities by race if equal facilities were offered.

The bill "will give the United States Supreme Court a similar opportunity to reconsider an earlier opinion."
It is tactically smart to associate the Roe v Wade case in the public mind with that other egregious example of bad jursiprudence Plessy v Ferguson although I think it would have been better to mention it by name rather than the cryptic "1896 ruling". (Perhaps that was the work of the editor at CNN?)

Nevertheless, I have to stand by my previous prediction that this gambit will fail at the Supreme Court level. We can only count on at most 4 votes (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito) and the latter two have not yet established that they are as sympathetic to pro-live arguments as many are assuming. If people are counting on Kennedy to go with the as-yet-not-proven pro-life faction they are forgetting his history.
As lawyers and court watchers have long suspected, the Supreme Court was ready to effectively overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion in 1992, but Justice Anthony M. Kennedy got cold feet, and the vote went the other way.
If they are banking on the "strong possibility" of Justice Stevens retiring (as this NYT piece obliquely suggests) I think they are living in a dream world. But even if that should come to pass, as I mentioned previously, passing this law would make it much less likely that a pro-life justice will survive the confirmation hearings. Even the National Right to Life Committee seems to think this is a bad idea:
Cristina Minniti, a spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, said no one from her organization was available to be interviewed on the South Dakota law. Instead, she issued a one paragraph statement which stated, in part: "Currently there are at least five votes, a majority, on the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade."
The NRLC website does not even mention this as of 8:30 PST.

(New York Times link via Althouse)

UPDATE: Here is the text of the law.


sonia said...

I believe abortion is evil, but I doubt if outlawing it, will make it go away. In fact, it's because it's legal that abortion providers can be put on the defensive and made look bad (otherwise they would be invisible). If Roe vs Wade is overturned, it will be trips to Canada for rich women, coat hangers for poor ones, feminists playing victim, and pro-life people falsely thinking that there are fewer abortions...

Jack said...

Well, outlawing other things we think are evil such as rape, murder and slavery have not been a complete waste of time. It is true that these things will never go away, but making them illegal does make them less common and it sends a message that society will not tolerate the injustice. In the case of abortion, there is the added benefit that care providers (such as school counselors or crisis pregnancy centers) cannot use it as a first line of defense.

Also, remember that, contrary to what the quoted article states, Roe did not "legalize abortion" it made prohibiting it illegal. If Roe were overturned, it would not immediately make abortion illegal, it would merely return it to the political branches of government. This would mean that communities that wanted to permit abortion could still do so, and suffer the consequences.