by Steven Ertelt
April 11, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — South Dakota officials have released information about the amount of money collected and the names and states of residents of donors to a legal defense fund to defend the state’s abortion ban. Attorney General Larry Long issued an opinion saying the information should be made public.
After the South Dakota legislature approved the abortion ban, state lawmakers also signed off on a measure allowing the creation of a defense fund. It can accept private donations to help the state defray the cost of defending the ban in court.
Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican who signed the ban into law, asked Long for an official opinion about whether the names of donors to the fund must be made public. Releasing his opinion Tuesday, Long said yes.
Long said South Dakota law requires any state agency to make any records public that it is required to keep and the records must be made available to the public during normal business hours.
There are some cases when records must be kept confidential, but the list of donors to the legal defense fund does not fall under that category.
Long also said the state is required to make public information about the money it receives and the law allowing the creation of the legal defense fund did not stipulate otherwise. The law also does not protect anonymous donations, Long said.
"The fact that a contributor wishes to remain anonymous has no effect on the public nature of the receipt," Long wrote in his opinion.
According to an AP report, 148 people have donated $11,181.95 to the fund in figures released by the state Bureau of Administration. One donor gave $2,000, two gave $1,000 and most donations were in smaller amounts of $10 or $20.
The donations were not limited to South Dakota residents.
Donations to the fund are expected to slow down because the abortion ban is not expected to go to court soon. Abortion advocates, including Planned Parenthood, which runs the state’s only abortion business located in Sioux Falls, have decided to take the ban to the November ballot and are collecting signatures for a petition to do that.
Should South Dakota voters favor the ban, Planned Parenthood can still file a lawsuit against it.