The slippery slope works both ways

South Dakota isn’t known for much of anything outside of being slightly warmer than North Dakota.

OK, so the giant palace made of corn is kind of cool, and the state did produce George McGovern, but that’s really about it.

Well, at least that was the case until last Wednesday when the South Dakota State Senate approved a bill which would ban abortion in that state, an act of legislation which, assuming that Gov. Mike Rounds (R) signs the bill into law, is sure to be the first salvo in yet another legal engagement over this issue.

On the surface the bill doesn’t really appear to affect much of anything, as South Dakota only has one abortion clinic, and it doesn’t exactly do booming business. The rub is that if the case gets challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, it opens the door to the holy grail of the right-wing in this country – the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

However, the pro-life faction shouldn’t be preparing the confetti just yet. The bill as it stands is all but certain to be overturned by the Supreme Court if it even gets that far in the first place. This is partially due to the simple truth that there is still a pro-Roe majority of five justices on the court, even with the addition of the (presumed) pro-life Alito instead of the pro-choice O’Connor.

Also, even if the court was more open to the idea of reviewing Roe, this particular bill is rather draconian even by the standards of most pro-lifers. The bill only allows for an exemption to be granted when the life of the mother is in danger without the usual safeguards in case of rape or incest, which makes it unpalatable to all but the most ardent abortion opponents on the court.

Of course those behind the passage of the law aren’t idiots, and they realize this to be the case. Instead they believe it will move the goalposts in the debate under the theory that if we’re actually talking about such a law entering the books we’ll be willing to accept more restrictions upon abortion as those limitations will appear to be more centrist and reasonable.

An example of this can be seen in the partial-birth abortion ban. Already blessed with a fair amount of support by pro-choice Democrats and Republicans, this proposal, compared to the South Dakota bill, appears quite moderate and soft-spoken and would almost be assured passage by the present-day Congress as well as receiving approval from the court.

An added bonus is that it gives the Republicans an issue to run on in the midterm elections (i.e. re-elect us, and if John Stevens retires or dies we’ll make sure the president gets to appoint another pro-life justice), which will provide a badly needed boost to a party who seems to be swimming upstream this cycle.

Of course there’s a term for a proposal which you either know or actually hope will fail, but in its failure will help you out politically.

At the end of the day the South Dakota bill is a cheap stunt and nothing more.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board