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Let the lawsuits begin. Undaunted by Roe v. Wade and its Supreme Court majority, South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed a bill March 6 that bans all abortions in the state, except to save the mother's life. Supporters of the ban—buoyed by two new Supreme Court justices, scientific research, and years of incremental anti-abortion laws—insist now is the time to launch a full-frontal assault on the controversial 1973 decision.

"In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society," said Rounds, a Republican, after he signed the ban. "The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them."

There was some question whether Rounds would sign the bill. Two years ago, he vetoed a similar ban ostensibly over questions about the bill's language. Rounds has stated he prefers the pro-life movement to chip away at Roe with laws that mandate parental notification and informed consent, which South Dakota has done. No South Dakota doctor now performs abortions. The state's lone abortion clinic flies in doctors from Minnesota one day a week to carry out the procedure.

Since Rounds's veto in 2004, the state commissioned a task force to study the hard science and psychology of abortion. The group concluded that life begins at conception. State Rep. Roger Hunt, a task-force member and the bill's chief advocate, said the state has compiled boxes of testimony from scientific experts and women who suffered physically and psychologically after abortions. He hopes the Supreme Court will be swayed by the research, not available ...

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March 2006

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