Burns: Abortion bill may set stage for lawsuits

Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson

Last Friday, a Senate committee passed the abortion bill that would make almost all abortions in South Dakota illegal.

The bill, which passed 5-1, was also amended, stating that women and fetuses “each possess a natural and inalienable right to life.”

Even if the proposed abortion bill passes as planned, political science professor Robert V. Burns predicts a rough road to follow.

“Well, I suspect that there will be a challenge against the constitutionality of the bill,” said Burns. “The legislation is clearly unconstitutional if they rely on current case law.”

The bill is unconstitutional because it doesn’t allow women to have abortions in stages of liability.

Pre-liability is the stage before the fetus can survive outside the womb. The post-liability stage is the stage after the fetus can survive outside the womb.

If the bill is passed by the South Dakota legislature, it is likely to end up in the Federal District Court for the state of South Dakota, where it would likely be found unconstitutional, said Burns.

From that point on, there would be the possibility that the bill would work its way through the court system and ultimately end up at the nation’s highest court.

“Their hope is that they will provide the occasion that the U.S. Supreme Court might reconsider Roe v. Wade,” he said.

However, unless the bill received differing rulings in the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court may not even choose to look at the case, said Burns..

The Supreme Court is entirely discretionary. It has no obligation to review a proposed case.

Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, the bill’s author, knows that a legal battle is ahead and said last Friday that an anonymous donor offered Gov. Rounds $1 million for the state’s potential legal fees.

The amount of money it would cost South Dakota to go to court is in question at this point, but Burns said it would cost at least $1 million.

The major concern, Burns said, whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, is that the bill being proposed is unconstitutional.

“Our elected lawmakers are elected to uphold the constitution,” he said. “We really have to wonder if they are holding true to their oath if they approve a law that violates the U.S. Constitution.”