The governor of South Dakota signed into law on Monday a ban on nearly all abortions in the state, setting up a court fight aimed at challenging the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion in the United States.
The new law makes it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless the procedure is necessary to save a woman's life and makes no exception for cases of rape or incest. Doctors could get up to five years in prison for performing an illegal abortion.
Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic immediately pledged to challenge the measure. That challenge could either be in court or by collecting petition signatures to refer the measure to a statewide vote in which voters would be asked to repeal the abortion ban.
Governor Mike Rounds said he expected the law would be tied up in court for years and would not take effect unless the US Supreme Court upheld it. The ban is supposed to take effect on 1 July, but a federal judge is likely to suspend it during an expected legal challenge.
The South Dakota state legislature passed the bill last month after supporters argued that the recent appointment of two conservative justices, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, have made the Supreme Court more likely to overturn Roe vs Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalised abortion.
Mr Rounds earlier said he thought it would be better to eliminate abortion in steps rather than attempt a court challenge to wipe it out all at once. But he accepted that many abortion opponents would rather seek a reverse Roe vs Wade with a single Supreme Court ruling. APReuse content