Abortion wars begin

Talk this year has been that there wouldn’t be as drastic an effort to restrict abortion in South Dakota as last year. That may be true but that doesn’t mean all is quiet in the abortion wars.

The first abortion-related bill this session sets out certain legislative findings for abortion and revises the physician disclosure requirements. Yet the religious/biological position the bill takes could have wider implications.

The very first finding is that “all abortions … terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Similarly, the bill would require a physician to state, in writing, that abortion “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” In addition, the bill would define a “human being” as “an individual living member of the species of Homo sapiens, including the unborn human being during the entire embryonic and fetal ages from fertilization to full gestation.” (Emphasis added).

What are the implications of saying a human being exists at fertilization? Does it render a woman who takes a so-called “morning after pill” guilty of murder? Can a woman be held liable for failing to obtain proper pre-natal care if she has a miscarriage? Perhaps more practically, what does it mean with respect to current practices in in vitro fertilization and similar biological endeavors?

There’s one thing that probably isn’t an issue — the bill’s chances of passing. It is sponsored by 40 of 70 House members and 23 of 35 Senate members. You gotta like the odds on that bill getting to the governor’s desk.

Finally, I note that Rep. Bill Elliott, an Aberdeen Democrat, is the only sponsor of the abortion bill who also signed on to a bill that would require health insurance policies to provide coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices. Seems to me that taking steps to help prevent unwanted pregnancies would be one of the first and best methods to stop or reduce abortions.

UPDATE: The Argus Leader reports Saturday that a bill banning abortion is now planned, as are other bills to restrict abortions. It does not appear any have been introduced yet.

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