South Dakota May Be Banning More Than Abortions


South Dakota's legislature made headlines last week by passing a statute that would essentially ban almost all abortions in that state. The bill's supporters are taking direct aim at the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that found that the constitutional right to privacy permitted women to control their reproductive lives including having access to abortions.

However, no commentators have looked at what other aspects of human reproduction that the bill might provoke the Supreme Court to rule on. For example, the bill defines "unborn human being" as an "individual living member of the species, homo sapiens, throughout the entire embryonic and fetal ages of the unborn child from fertilization to full gestation and childbirth; and "fertilization" as "that point in time when a male human sperm penetrates the zona pellucida of a female human ovum."

Prolifers on the Supreme Court (whoever they may be) could use this bill as an excuse to rule that all fertilized human eggs are people. Such a ruling would criminalize human embryonic stem cell and cloning research.

On a somewhat less consequential front, this bill would also seem to outlaw in vitro fertilzation in which not all embryos are implanted in a patient's womb. To get around this problem, the bill might be interpreted to require that all embryos produced by IVF be implanted even if they are genetically defective.

Additional Thought: Perhaps cloning would be OK because it doesn't involve human sperm. Does that mean that South Dakota legislators believe that a clone would not be human?