March 3, 2006


South Dakota scores a victory for life

One of the smallest states in the nation made a big statement about life on Feb. 24.

We believe it’s an example Indiana and 48 other states need to emulate.

The South Dakota House of Representatives that day adopted legislation that would prohibit all intentional abortions except those to save a mother’s life. The South Dakota Senate had approved the bill a few days earlier.

Small in size and population—it is the country’s 46th-largest state with roughly 755,000 residents—South Dakota was best known as the home to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. Until now.

With Gov. Mike Rounds saying he is inclined to sign the bill into law, South Dakota now steps to the forefront as a state directly challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion on demand. If the governor signs the bill, all abortions—except to save a mother’s life—will become illegal in South Dakota on July 1.

The language of the legislation hits home for people of faith who know life begins at conception. It says “the guarantee of due process of law under the constitution of South Dakota applies equally to born and unborn human beings,” and that the mother and her unborn child “each possess a natural and inalienable right to life.”

As Catholics who value all life from conception to natural death, we are taught that truth at an early age. And we believe that is about as simple and straightforward as any common-sense legislation can be.

The legislation also states that anyone who performs an abortion except to save a mother’s life commits a felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison. Some might call the punishment harsh, but it may well get the doctors who perform South Dakota’s 800 abortions per year to think twice about putting an end to innocent human life.

Meanwhile, senators here in Indiana last week amended informed consent legislation passed in the Indiana House of Representatives that would help reduce abortions in the Hoosier state (see story, page 7). What happens to that watered-down legislation was uncertain as this newspaper went to press. With the momentum that could result from the South Dakota decision, now is the perfect time to again contact your legislators to let them know you support putting an end to abortions here.

Besides Indiana, Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee have also proposed legislation that would prohibit most or all abortions. It would also be wise for those states—and all states—to take note of what has happened in South Dakota.

Add the fact that two new U.S. Supreme Court justices—Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito—appear to be “friendly” where life issues are concerned, and, yes, now seems like an appropriate time to bring this “life-and-death” argument back to America’s forefront.

While we applaud what has transpired in South Dakota, we know challenges lie ahead there. Planned Parenthood, which runs the only abortion facility in that state, said it would sue if Gov. Rounds signs the legislation into law. An anonymous donor has reportedly pledged $1 million to defend the proposed new law.

The real fight there is only beginning. But we believe it’s never too early or late to stand up for all life—born and unborn.

Whether it’s in Indiana, South Dakota, or anywhere else for that matter, we are called to be voices for the voiceless. Every day.

— Mike Krokos


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