Legislator and Catholic Law Center launch first direct legal attack on Roe v. Wade

In the first legislative initiative of its kind, South Dakota State Representative Matt McCaulley introduced a bill Jan. 23, that will make abortion a crime unless it is necessary to save a mother’s life.

House Bill 1191, which already has the support of a majority in the state house and senate, directly attacks the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which gave women a constitutional right to abort their babies.

“Roe v. Wade was an exercise of raw judicial power, not based on any reasonable interpretation of the Constitutional text,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which is supporting McCaulley by providing legal assistance. 

“The Roe decision carries the same moral implications as the Dredd Scott decision that upheld slavery by regarding a segment of our population as non-persons. The Court was wrong then, and the court is wrong now,” he continued. Thompson acknowledged the likely court battle that would ensue if the legislation were passed.

The bill provides for exceptions to protect the life of the mother if birth or continued pregnancy constitutes a clear and immediate threat of death to the mother or serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function. It would make abortion punishable by law for up to 5 years in state prison.

Support for the legislation has been building during the past few days, with 47 representatives and 18 state senators co-sponsoring the bill. With the sponsors alone, the legislature has the majority votes needed to pass the bill. Once approved, the legislation would ultimately be sent to South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, who has previously vowed to protect life under all circumstances.

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