South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed a pro-life bill Wednesday protecting the life of every baby that is born alive after an attempted abortion.
The bill comes just six days after a fetal heartbeat bill was signed into law in South Carolina, though that law was immediately challenged by Planned Parenthood.
Gov. Henry McMaster signed the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act on Feb. 18. The measure was blocked by a federal judge on Feb. 19, following the suit from Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights against the state of South Carolina.
The South Dakota bill, which overwhelmingly passed the state Senate last week, requires that the same basic medical care be provided to a baby who survives an abortion as would be provided to any other baby born at the same gestational age. Doctors violating the law could face huge fines and the loss of their medical license. Babies born alive and their mothers also could sue doctors who fail to provide basic medical care.
“The pro-life cause continues even after a child is born,” Noem said in a statement Wednesday. “Today, I signed born-alive legislation to guarantee the right to life for every baby that is born alive. We expect doctors to treat all children equally, even those born in horrific circumstances. It’s basic human decency.”
The bill is important not only to save lives, but also to understand how many babies do indeed survive abortion, state Rep. Fred Deutsch told lawmakers at a January hearing.
“How do we know it doesn’t happen if we don’t track the data?” he asked. Deutsch sponsored the bill.
Melissa Ohden, who survived an abortion attempt in 1977, agrees with that reasoning.
“We need to have public reporting of failed abortions and abortion survivors required across the U.S.,” she wrote on Facebook after also speaking at the hearing. “As I’ve said many times, don’t tell me it’s not a problem if you’re not even attempting to track it.”
Abortion activists and a few medical workers lobbied against the bill, claiming it could have “a devastating impact on families of infants with lethal anomalies, who may only want to hold their child and say goodbye but would be deprived of this opportunity.”
But parents who choose to abort unborn babies with fatal anomalies do so expecting the baby to die in the womb, proponents of the bill say. Abortion is not their only option, nor their best one if they want to hold their child.
Kentucky passed a similar bill, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, in January.
The South Carolina legislation states that before performing an abortion, providers must first perform an ultrasound to determine if there is a fetal heartbeat.
If a heartbeat is found, a doctor cannot perform an abortion unless the physician believes it is a medical emergency, the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or there is a fetal anomaly, the bill says. Abortion providers who provide the procedure outside those parameters could face fines and imprisonment.
“This is a great day,” McMaster said after signing the bill. “It’s a happy day. There are a lot of happy hearts beating right now.”
Although the bill has been blocked until March 9, supporters say they are in this to win.
“We’ve been to court before,” SC Citizens for Life Executive Director Holly Gatling told Live5 News. “We’ve lost one time and we’ve won one time. We have a different makeup of the court now. We have jurisdictions with different opinions and that’s when the Supreme Court usually takes up a pro-life issue.”
The South Carolina bill sends “a very serious and very important moral signal” about the affirmation of the dignity of all human life, including the unborn, said Al Mohler, host of the podcast “The Briefing.”
“I want to say a word of appreciation to the legislature in South Carolina, and to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, for getting this legislation through and signing the legislation.”
That the bill would be suspended by a court was expected, Mohler said.
“The point is the law is there to be suspended,” he said. “That is a profoundly different moral statement than if the law were merely hypothetical. The legislature and the governor of South Carolina deserve full credit for putting their names on the legislation, voting on the record and being on the record for the sanctity of human life.”
Above: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem