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NARAL Pro-Choice America
MARCH 3, 2004
6:12 PM
CONTACT: NARAL Pro-Choice America 
David Seldin (202) 973-3032
Michigan Based Group Succeeds in Pushing Total Abortion Ban in South Dakota

WASHINGTON - March 3 - NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation’s leading advocate of personal privacy and a woman’s right to choose, expressed concern over the connection between the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center and the role it played in drafting a near-total ban on legal abortion recently passed by the South Dakota legislature, and called on Michigan residents to resist an initiative in their own state that would produce a similar result.

The South Dakota bill makes performing an abortion at any time during pregnancy a felony, potentially outlaws many forms of contraception, and declares that life and constitutional rights begin at conception. South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds is expected to sign the bill into law either this week or next. Bill proponents admit that its purpose is to create a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that guarantees the right to choose. The President of the Thomas More Law Center, Richard Thompson, told The Los Angeles Times, “This bill directly confronts Roe vs. Wade.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Kate Michelman said: “Anti-choice forces have stepped up the intensity of their efforts in 2004 at the state and national legislative and judicial levels and are mounting a full frontal assault on Roe v. Wade.”

The South Dakota bill is similar to the “Legal Birth Definition Act” passed in Michigan last year, and vetoed by pro-choice Governor Jennifer Granholm for its potential to prohibit all abortions at every stage of pregnancy. Anti-choice forces in Michigan are trying to circumvent the governor’s veto with a so-called “citizen’s initiative.” The signatures of less than eight percent of the electorate could override the governor’s veto and endanger the health and safety of Michigan’s women.

The Michigan “citizen’s initiative” and South Dakota’s ban on abortion are just two of several challenges to Roe under consideration at the moment. In addition, the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has agreed to accept a case that would reopen the landmark decision. And President Bush has continued his campaign to place judges on federal courts who oppose a woman’s right to choose. Most recently, he bypassed the Senate with a recess appointment of William Pryor, the former Attorney General of Alabama, who described the Roe decision as “abominable.”

Michelman added: “Across the country, the threats to choice and privacy are rising. We’re calling on pro-choice Americans to stand up and be counted – at our March for Women’s Lives in Washington on April 25, and throughout this critical year.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America is joining with other pro-choice organizations to sponsor the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC on April, 25, when a record number of pro-choice Americans will come to the nation’s capital to raise their voices in support of privacy and reproductive choice.


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