[O]pponents of abortion have split over South Dakota's approach, a fact that [Governor Michael] Rounds acknowledged in recent weeks as he weighed whether to sign the legislation.I think Rounds and others sense that they are making a terrible misstep. The very harshness of this law will remind ordinary people why they have quietly, over the years, accepted the individual's right to make a private decision about whether to continue a pregnancy. More modest efforts at constraining the right may have been tolerated. But this remorseless intrusion on the individual should backfire on abortion opponents. Even if they manage to get the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade -- and I don't think they will -- the political support for abortion rights should make that victory Pyrrhic.
Some, including those who led efforts to pass the ban in South Dakota, said they considered this the ideal time to return the central question of Roe to the Supreme Court. State Representative Roger Hunt, who sponsored the bill in South Dakota, pointed to the appointments of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., both conservatives, and what he described as the "strong possibility" of the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens in the near future and the naming of a conservative as his successor.
"This is our time," Mr. Hunt said on Monday.
Other national anti-abortion groups, though, have quietly disagreed with the timing, pressing instead to cut down on abortions by creating restrictions that may be more palatable to a wider audience, restrictions like parental and spousal notification laws and clinic regulations. If the Supreme Court upholds Roe, they have argued, the damage for those opposed to abortion rights will be grave.
"As much as this isn't the best strategic thing to do, it's there and it's the law of South Dakota now," said Daniel S. McConchie, vice president of Americans United for Life, another group. "We'll defend our position now — which is to oppose abortion."
Cristina Minniti, a spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, said no one from her organization was available to be interviewed on the South Dakota law. Instead, she issued a one paragraph statement which stated, in part: "Currently there are at least five votes, a majority, on the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade."
Mr. Rounds, who became governor in 2003 after serving in the South Dakota Senate for a decade, declined to speak with reporters after the signing. In an earlier interview, he said that he personally felt uncertain about the timing of a challenge to Roe, but that he was leaning toward signing the bill, in part because he did not wish to divide the people who, like him, oppose abortion.
IN THE COMMENTS: I'm happy to say there is civil conversation among readers with very different views.