South Dakota Activists Will File Petitions Tuesday to Overturn Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Activists Will File Petitions Tuesday to Overturn Abortion Ban Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 26, 2006

Pierre, SD ( — Abortion advocates in South Dakota plan to file their petitions on Tuesday in their attempt to overturn the ban on most abortions approved by the state’s legislature. If they have filed enough, state residents will vote in November on whether to keep the ban, which prohibits all but abortions to save a mother’s life, in place.

The pro-abortion South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, which is organizing the petition drive, has until June 19 to file enough signatures. Jan Nicolay of Sioux Falls, the co-chairwoman of the group, said they will file the petitions early to make sure they beat a possible earlier deadline.

Petitions are normally due 90 days following the end of the legislative session, but the legislature this year counter two days as one legislative day and there was some question whether the pro-abortion signatures would need to be completed earlier.

Nicolay told the Associated Press her group has more than enough signatures to qualify their effort to overturn the abortion ban.

"Anybody could go ahead and challenge it, and then you spend money on legal fees," Nicolay said Thursday about the possible earlier deadline. "We just decided as long as we were in good shape, we won’t take any chances."

Planned Parenthood, which runes the only abortion business in the statek, located in Sioux Falls, could have taken the abortion ban to court to overturn it. But it decided to launch the petition drive instead to save on court fees and avoid the possibility that the Supreme Court might overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.

Should state voters uphold the ban, Planned Parenthood can still challenge it in court.

Abortion advocates needed 16,728 valid signatures and Nicolay didn’t know how many the group had but said it was more than enough.

The abortion ban is scheduled to go into effect July 1, but would be suspended pending the outcome of the November vote.

Pro-life advocates have said that the state legislature reflects the will of the people of South Dakota and the people spoke when they elected lawmakers who predominantly support a pro-life position on abortion.

"When the legislators were debating this House Bill 1215, they were overwhelmed with calls and e-mails and letters from the constituents that the people of South Dakota actually already voted," said Kimberly Martinez, executive director of the Alpha Center, a pregnancy help center in Sioux Falls.

Yet, Martinez told AP that her group would "welcome" the vote if it was on the ballot because she thinks state residents will support life.

The abortion ban prohibits all abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother and, in such cases, an abortion practitioner or doctor is required to do everything possible to save the baby’s life as well.

The abortion ban has prompted other states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and others to tackle legislation prohibiting abortions.

An abortion ban passed through both houses in Mississippi but the two chambers couldn’t agree on a final version because of a debate on rape and incest exceptions. A Louisiana ban is advancing and still under consideration there.

Pro-life advocates are divided on the timing of abortion bans, with some saying to proceed and others saying they will be shot down in courts as the Supreme Court still has, at best, a 5-4 majority in favor of abortion and the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.