Editorial

Editorial by the Plain Talk State senators who backed a ban on most abortions in South Dakota told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader they�ll vote for the bill again Monday, but they fear its slender margin of support puts it on shaky ground.

�There�s a golden opportunity for this bill to die,� said Sen. Gil Koetzle, a Sioux Falls Democrat who continues to support the ban.

The ban passed last month with the minimal 18 votes in the Senate, meaning that even one supporter dropping from the �yes� column would have the potential to kill the measure. Of those 18 supporters, 15 said Tuesday that they would �probably� or �definitely� vote for it with its proposed changes when they return Monday to Pierre for the final day of this year�s session.

Time is running out. People who truly are concerned about this issue should contact Sen. Joe Reedy immediately, to see where he stands.

You see, Sen. Reedy told us one thing, and then did the opposite in Pierre when HB 1191 was addressed on the floor of the South Dakota Senate.

On Feb. 14, during a cracker barrel legislative meeting with local constituents in Vermillion, Reedy said, �I do not support abortion, and there have been hours of arguments about abortion in our Legislature, it seems, about every other year. It seems we never have the right answer. We can argue about it all day.�

Reedy told a packed meeting room in the William J. Radigan Fire/EMS Center that he would vote in favor of HB 1191.

Guess what? He didn�t. He is among the state senators who voted against it.

Right now, we�re inclined to give Reedy the benefit of the doubt. HB 1191 had surfaced only a couple days before Feb. 14, when District 17 lawmakers met with constituents in Vermillion.

Maybe, after having more of an opportunity to study this legislation, he had some misgivings � to the point where he couldn�t support it any longer.

That�s understandable. After all, Gov. Mike Rounds had to chew on this issue for several weeks before deciding Tuesday to send HB 1191 back to the Legislature by issuing a �style-and-form� veto.

What we find disappointing is Reedy�s silence on the issue. He never told constituents, especially those who heard him clearly tell them that he would vote for HB 1191, why he couldn�t support it when it came time to vote on it.

Rounds� veto is intended to clear up what he sees as a technical weakness in the bill. Rounds said he fears that if opponents of the measure sue the state to block the bill, as expected, South Dakota�s other abortion restrictions would be frozen two or three years while the issue is tied up in court.

That would produce the unintended result of leaving South Dakota more permissive on abortion, he said.

The proposed abortion ban became the single hottest topic of the past Legislature. Sponsors readily admitted they wrote it as a direct challenge to Roe, the 1973 federal Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States. The bill argues that life begins at conception and should be protected from that moment. Sponsors said the Roe court never answered the question of when life began and didn�t have three decades of advances in medical technology and genetic evidence to support the conclusion of the proposed South Dakota law.

Leading sponsors in each chamber said they�ll ask the full Legislature to endorse Rounds� changes when the House and Senate convene in Pierre on Monday for the final working day of the session.

Approval of the revised abortion ban in the House is almost certain. The original bill passed 54-14 there during the session. A style and form veto needs only 36 votes, a majority, compared with the two-thirds or 47 necessary to override a full veto.

As we mentioned earlier, the issue could be tight in the Senate. That�s why we need to know where Reedy stands. There�s talk that Reedy likely won�t be seeking re-election to the Legislature this year. That makes him no less accountable to his constituents, however.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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