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PIERRE, South Dakota (LifeSiteNews) — Republican legislators in South Dakota have refused to consider a bill proposed by Gov. Kristi Noem which would have banned almost all abortions if a fetal heartbeat could be detected, a move the governor has called “unprecedented in the very worst way.”
Gov. Noem had introduced the legislation last month on the same day the 49th annual March for Life took place in Washington, D.C., along with a bill draft which would prohibit the distribution of abortion drugs through the mail. Early signs pointed to the future success of the bills, which together would ban nearly all abortions in the Mount Rushmore State.
However, in a surprise move last week, a Republican-led committee of the state’s House of Representatives refused to grant a hearing for the bill which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (or about six weeks gestation), effectively killing the proposed legislation.
Modeled after Texas’ life-saving Heartbeat Act, which prohibits all abortions in the Lone Star State after about six weeks gestation, South Dakota’s law would also have borrowed Texas’ unique enforcement mechanism which empowers private citizens to sue abortionists rather than utilizing criminal charges filed by state prosecutors.
he decision to reject the pro-life bill came after reports had suggested South Dakota’s legislative body was set to approve the measure.
According to CBS, Gov. Noem had “previewed the legislation for weeks, and it has received an enthusiastic reception from fellow Republicans who dominate the Legislature.”
However, at least one Republican lawmaker who rejected the legislation said the proposal was brought at the last minute and its language could endanger the state’s ongoing legal battle with big-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood, which Noem has suggested could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
South Dakota Republican Rep. Spencer Gosch, House speaker and member of the committee that blocked his state’s heartbeat bill, told the Argus Leader, “I am as pro-life as can be, and because of that, I do not want to do something that will jeopardize our involvement in a court case that could abolish abortion in this country.”
Regardless, Gov. Noem hit back at the Republican lawmakers who refused to consider the bill, arguing that the pro-life movement nationwide is unified around enacting such statewide measures to protect the lives of the unborn.
“Every single life is precious and deserving of our protection – but apparently South Dakota legislators think otherwise,” Noem said in a press release issued February 2. “It grieves me that they would take this unprecedented action at this time based on the advice of one out-of-state lawyer.”
“National pro-life leaders believe that now is the time to have this sort of protection in law to save lives,” Noem added.