South Dakota's Senate killed by one vote what could have been one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws. Montana's House passed a bill that would ensure abortion rights.
The South Dakota measure had passed overwhelmingly in the House but failed 18-17 Tuesday in the Senate.It would have allowed abortion only in cases involving rape, incest, a danger to the mother's physical health or when a doctor determined that a fetus was severely mentally or physically handicapped. Gov. George Mickelson had said he would have signed the bill.
During nearly two hours of debate, the bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Richard Bellati, had argued unsuccessfully, "It's simply a bill to limit abortion as a means of birth control, that's all it is."
Opponents said government should not interfere in such issues.
"The choices made by men and women in their personal lives are between them and God," said Democratic Sen. Roberta Rasmussen.
In Montana, the House passed 53-47 a bill that advocates said would put into state law the right to abortion guaranteed in the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade.
That ruling legalized abortion nationwide for the first time. Montana's bill contains similar provisions, saying the state can't interfere with a woman's access to abortion during the first three months of pregnancy but could regulate abortion somewhat in the second three months.
The House on Monday modified the bill to prohibit abortion after a fetus is viable or able to live outside the womb even if by artificial means. The original bill established that point as the 23rd week of a pregnancy.