The Spectacle Blog

Thrills in Pierre, S.D.

By on 2.24.06 | 4:13PM

From the state capital that is only served by two-lane highways (imagine the legislative implications of that!), a Republican state legislature and governor are about to put their money where their mouths are on Roe and ban abortion except in cases where it's necessary to save the mother's life. It's great news, and the legislators and governor should be commended for their courage.

Keep in mind that even if South Dakota's ban survives (it'll be a long, hard road, folks... even Family Research Council Executive VP Chuck Donovan told the Post that the law "really doesn't stand a chance under Roe or Casey"), it doesn't come close to rolling back Roe, or even turning the clock to the late 1950s. As the redoubtable TAS contributor and Northwestern law prof Stephen Presser wrote in the current issue of the Texas Review of Law and Politics (page 94), before the 1960s all but four states banned abortions, with exceptions to save the life of the mother. "As of January 1973, thirty-one states permitted no exception other than to save the life of the mother, and most states actively enforced their abortion laws."

If you have the time, read all of Presser's article with Clarke D. Forsythe. It's an incredibly timely history of abortion legislation and judicial decisions.

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