South Dakota Election Contests Offer Pro-Lifers Clear Abortion Contrast

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 18, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Election Contests Offer Pro-Lifers Clear Abortion Contrast Email this article
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by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
September 18, 2004 Note: This is the third in a series of articles during September and October covering the 2004 elections state by state.

Pierre, SD ( — This year’s major political showdowns in South Dakota will represent a classic clash in values: solid pro-life sentiment versus staunchly pro-abortion politics.

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who is known for supporting abortion despite his Catholic background, faces a challenge from Republican John Thune, who has received strong support from the pro-life community.

On its website, the Thune campaign states, "John believes in respecting human life."

"The life of the unborn is precious and must be protected by federal law. John believes abortion is wrong. John has been a leader in Congress on the efforts to end partial-birth abortion, stop federally-funded abortions and prevent human cloning," Thune’s web site says.

In sharp contrast, Daschle has consistently voted either to kill or to undermine pro-life legislation and his support of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision which
legalized abortion, continues.

Daschle has even gone so far as to conduct fundraising for the pro-abortion lobbying group known as NARAL.

Thune served as a member of Congress from 1996-2002, occupying a seat on the Transportation Committee as South Dakota’s lone representative in the House. There, he compiled a stellar pro-life voting record.

Daschle first ran for the House in 1978, where he served for four terms before running for the Senate in 1986.

Meanwhile, this year’s Congressional race in South Dakota features a rematch of two candidates who came close in a previous special election.

Republican Larry Diedrich wants to make sure voters realize that he is pro-life.

"I am committed to protecting our unborn children. The recently enacted ban on partial-birth abortion was long overdue, and I co-sponsored a bill that outlawed that practice here in South Dakota in 1997," Diedrich said.

Diedrich strongly backs telling parents that their teenager daughter is considering an abortion and sponsored a resolution urging the FDA to reconsider its approval of the abortion drug RU-486.

"This drug has been responsible for causing severe health complications for women who use it, and in some cases, has even resulted in death," the Congressional candidate said.

A recent poll shows Diedrich and his opponent, pro-abortion incumbent Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth, appear to be in a statistical tie.

"This (Rasmussen Reports) poll shows that the November general election will be just as close as the June special election," said Jessica R. Towhey, Diedrich’s press secretary. "We’re right where we thought we would be, and the poll proves that November’s election is clearly within Larry Diedrich’s grasp."

Herseth is backed by EMILY’s List, a pro-abortion political action committee. In June, Herseth defeated Diedrich in a special election for the state’s at-large House seat. The Georgetown University Law School graduate is now running for a full-term. Her name is well-known in South Dakota political circles, since her grandfather served as Governor, her father served in the state legislature, and her grandmother served as Secretary of State.

On its website, EMILY’s List states that Herseth’s opponent would vote to "curtail reproductive freedom even further in South Dakota, one of the most restrictive states in the nation on abortion.”

The Rasmussen Reports poll predicts that President George W. Bush, who is expected to win overwhelmingly in South Dakota, could have a coattail effect in the state, propelling Diedrich to victory.

Diedrich has served in the South Dakota House and Senate and is a member of South Dakota Right to Life.

Related web sites:

South Dakota Pro-Life Voter’s Guide –
South Dakota Right to Life –
John Thune for Senate –
Larry Diedrich for Congress –