The swiftness in which the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to directly challenge Roe v. Wade is unsettling to many. On Tuesday, the Court agreed to take up the constitutionality of partial-birth abortion legislation -- a direct challenge to leg...
The swiftness in which the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to directly challenge Roe v. Wade is unsettling to many. On Tuesday, the Court agreed to take up the constitutionality of partial-birth abortion legislation -- a direct challenge to legalized abortion in this country. On Wednesday, the South Dakota Senate passed 23-12 a bill declaring that human life begins at conception. With similar support from a friendly House, then a signature from pro-life Gov. Mike Rounds, the bill would place Roe v. Wade directly in the crosshairs.
Nationally, pro-life forces are feeling their oats, and South Dakota's behavior is further evidence. Buoyed by the new Supreme Court appointments of conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito, abortion opponents are clearly anxious to put them to the test. No wonder pro-choice advocates were so nervous about Alito, whose appointment they said could very well tip the scales against Roe v. Wade entirely.
Many Americans believe Roe v. Wade is settled precedent. It isn't. The legal underpinnings behind Roe v. Wade were shaky from the beginning, and though this country has forged an uneasy peace with the decision, well ... that peace has never taken hold.
Least of all in South Dakota.
South Dakota's challenge is straightforward and direct. And it is less surprising than it sounds. A bastion of conservatism, South Dakota has always been uneasy with the prospect of easy abortions. The only clinic that legally performs the procedure is in Sioux Falls, and it has consistently been the target of protests. Right to Life organizations in South Dakota are strong, and unafraid.
Will Roe v. Wade be overturned? There may already be a majority on the Supreme Court who agree that the case was wrongly decided in 1973 based on constitutional law. The question that nobody can answer (yet) is whether precedent will be considered too established to upset.