New legislation restricting abortion access is moving forward in four US states, according to reports by Fox News, with supporters tailoring the bills to maximize their likelihood of passage.
A South Dakota bill introduced Wednesday in the House of Representatives would ban all abortions with the exception of rape and incest, a concession to the public demand for what is often called a "compassionate" exception — despite actual figures of abortion after rape being less than one percent of all US abortions, according to statistics released by the Guttmacher Institute last year.
A South Dakota measure banning all abortions failed to pass voter approval last year after a pro-abortion campaign concentrated on the bill's exclusion of exceptions in cases of rape.
The current bill would require women to report a rape to police within 50 days. Doctors would have to verify the report with police before performing the abortion, and the rape claim would have to be further confirmed by DNA testing of blood from the baby after abortion. Similar restrictions would apply in cases of incest. In both cases, abortions would only be permitted up until 17 weeks gestation. Abortions would also be allowed in situations where the woman's life or health was in serious danger.
The restrictions are designed to prevent bogus claims of rape as a means to procure an illegal abortion.
In Utah, lawmakers introduced a similar measure Tuesday that would ban all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or danger to life or "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function," the Salt Lake Tribune reported January 31.
"This is the most important legislation that I could possibly be involved with in the entire time I'm a state legislator," said Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, who backed the measure. "We're talking about preserving the sanctity of human life. The state of Utah should lead the charge."
Supporters plan to set up a legal fund to cover the anticipated court costs of constitutional challenges to the bill, which is expected to eventually go before the Supreme Court. Cost estimates of the legal battle begin at $1 million.
"I'm excited to take this challenge to the Supreme Court," said supporter Rep. Paul Ray. "We're known for our family values and our children. We have the opportunity to lead the nation."
Four separate measures restricting abortion were considered by the North Dakota House Friday — one passed and the other three were killed out of concern they were too vaguely worded or too extreme, The Forum reported January 27.
The bill that passed in a 61-26 vote would prohibit all abortions in the state, with an exception to save the life of the mother. The bill would only take effect if the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision were overturned.
"North Dakota has long been a pro-life state," said Rep. Kim Koppelman. The bill will now go to the Senate.
The state of Virginia is considering a measure that would make it a felony to force, coerce or intimidate a minor girl — under 18 — into having an abortion. The crime would be lessened to a misdemeanor if the victim was an adult woman. The House passed the measure by a 71 to 27 vote on January 26, the Washington Post reported, and will now go before the Senate.