updated 1/31/2007 1:58:11 PM ET 2007-01-31T18:58:11

An abortion ban bill introduced Wednesday in the South Dakota state House would allow exceptions for rape and incest, but only if the crimes are reported to authorities and are backed by DNA evidence.

People who oppose abortion hope the measure becomes the vehicle for a legal challenge to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

A bill passed last year contained an exception only to save the life of a woman. A petition campaign forced that bill onto the ballot and voters rejected it in November by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.

Opponents of the legislation have said the issue was settled in the November election and lawmakers should not have revived it.

This year’s bill would allow rape victims to get abortions if they report the rapes to police within 50 days. Doctors would have to confirm the report with police and would have to take blood from aborted fetuses and give that information to police for DNA testing.

Accused perpetrator must be identified
In the case of incest, a doctor would have to get the woman’s consent to report the crime along with the identity of the alleged perpetrator before an abortion could be performed. Blood samples from fetuses would have to be provided to police in incest cases, too.

Abortions could be done only until the 17th week of pregnancy in cases of incest and rape.

One of the 25 sponsors, state Rep. Gordon Howie, said the rape and incest provisions are strict to ensure that women don’t say they have been victims in order to obtain abortions.

“Frankly, Planned Parenthood would drive a semi truck through an exception that wasn’t clearly defined,” he said.

The bill carries a tougher maximum penalty for illegal abortions than last year’s bill — 10 years in prison instead of five.

It would allow abortions to save women’s lives and in cases in which their health would be seriously jeopardized by a continued pregnancy. However, a doctor could perform an abortion only if a doctor from another practice concurs that a woman’s health is in jeopardy.

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