by Steven Ertelt
April 9, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — Abortion advocates will likely have enough signatures to put a ban on abortions in South Dakota on the November state ballot for citizens there to consider. They have to gather 17,000 signatures but will likely meet the goal because national pro-abortion groups are pouring money into the state.
Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the ACLU are giving large donations to the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, the coalition of abortion activists seeking to put the ban on the ballot.
Together they are paying for about 400 volunteers to canvass the state for the signatures.
They decided to seek ballot status instead of taking the ban directly to court. If they win at the polls, they will avoid having to go to court to stop the law from taking effect.
Should voters uphold the abortion ban, Planned Parenthood, which operates the only abortion center in the state, can still file a lawsuit against the ban.
If they’re successful in getting the abortion ban on the ballot, some say an all-out ad war will ensue.
"This election is going to be incredible. I could see millions of dollars spent," Terry Robertson, associate professor of political communication studies at the University of South Dakota, told the Associated Press.
Rep. Roger Hunt, the lead sponsor of the abortion ban, told Focus on the Family he’s prepared for a pro-abortion assault.
"We have, since the early 1990s, been pretty aggressive in enacting legislation regulating abortion," Hunt said.
Previous ballot issues in South Dakota have seen large dollars spent in a state that barely has half a million residents.
A 1998 vote on corporate farming saw $270,000 spent while both sides spent more than $1.2 million on a video gaming ballot proposal in 2000.
But spending on the South Dakota abortion ban may be limited because some pro-life groups are skeptical of the ban’s prospects. Some pro-life groups either opposed or took no position on the abortion ban because they say it will only be struck down by the Supreme Court. And winning the vote only puts the abortion ban back in the courts where it was expected to go in the first place.
That kind of thinking, combined with the limited resources of pro-life groups, may prompt some organizations to keep their limited funds in reserve and focus instead on Congressional battles in other states.
On the other hand, some organizations will likely throw large sums of money in the battle to counter the hundreds of thousands Planned Parenthood can easily spend there. They may be inclined to spend heavily to avoid an embarrassing defeat at the ballot box in a state that should be more likely to vote pro-life.