by Steven Ertelt
March 15, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — An unknown out-of-state pro-abortion group has filed a petition with the South Dakota Secretary of State to place the state’s new abortion ban on the November ballot for residents there to approve or overturn. The action has both pro-life and pro-abortion groups upset.
The Basic-Abortion-Rights Network, a relatively unknown local pro-abortion group based in Waukesha, Wisconsin filed the papers on Tuesday to take the abortion ban to the voters in November. Now the group has to gather 16,728 valid signatures by June 19 in order to qualify for ballot status.
Secretary of State Chris Nelson says it’s legitimate even though the group is based out of state. However, all of the signatures must be from state residents.
The move has upset Planned Parenthood officials, which run the only abortion business in the state in Sioux Falls.
The abortion ban, which prohibits all abortions except those to save the life of the mother, is slated to go into effect on July 1 and the pro-abortion group was trying to decide whether to file a lawsuit against it or take it to the November ballot.
Kate Looby, director of the group, appeared to be leaning in favor of a ballot battle with comments she made at a pro-abortion rally last week opposing the ban.
Looby told the Associated Press she knew nothing of the group or its petition drive. She worried an out of state organization would never be able to collect enough valid signatures for the campaign to be successful.
"None of it makes any sense. They’re from Wisconsin. How are they going to collect 17,000 signatures," she said.
She also told AP the group acted too quickly since local abortion advocates were still crafting their strategy. Looby indicated the abortion business will make its final decision within the next week.
Leslee Unruh, a pro-life advocate who runs a crisis pregnancy center in Sioux Falls and pressed for the abortion ban, said the move upsets her as well because she said South Dakota residents, not out of state people, should determine what happens within the state.
"This is a desperate maneuver to avoid a legal confrontation where the facts and evidence presented will overwhelmingly support enforcement of the South Dakota abortion ban," she told AP.
She told the Associated Press she expects South Dakota residents to stand up for the abortion ban.
"This out-of-state effort to refer this new law, designed to protect women and children, will launch a public debate that will expose the deception of abortion-rights supporters concerning women’s rights, women’s health and their own pro-abortion interests," she said.
Should the petition drive fail, Planned Parenthood can still take the measure to court. It can also file suit to block the law after November if voters support it on the ballot.
Governor Mike Rounds, a pro-life Republican who signed the measure into law, is up for re-election and he has said he does not plan to actively campaign for the abortion ban while he runs for office. He’s worried the Supreme Court, which is 5-4 in favor of abortion, will strike it down.