by Steven Ertelt
May 31, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — The petitions abortion advocates have filed to get a statewide vote on a comprehensive abortion ban the state legislature approved won’t be certified for weeks. Secretary of State Chris Nelson says it will take his office weeks to count and verify the 30,000 signatures a pro-abortion group submitted to get the ban on the November ballot.
Nelson said his office won’t be able to start tabulating the petition signatures until after the June 6 primary election as the elections office is busy preparing for it.
However, Nelson told the Aberdeen American News that the process of validating the signatures will be completed by July 1, when the abortion ban is slated to take effect.
If abortion advocates have turned in enough signatures, the abortion ban will be suspended until the November vote. The pro-abortion group needs almost 17,000 signatures to qualify.
Maria Bell of Sioux Falls, the sponsor of the petition effort, signed an affidavit saying she believed enough signatures have been turned in and that the signatures abortion advocates turned in represent its complete effort. That means the group can’t get more petitions signed between now and then Nelson’s office tabulates the numbers.
Bell told the Aberdeen newspaper she thinks more than 38,000 signatures were turned in, but Nelson said the final number may never be known.
"Once we get to that number (16,728), we absolutely stop [counting]," he said.
Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican running for re-election, signed the abortion ban into law on March 6. The Senate voted 23-12 and the House of Representatives 50-18 for the ban, which prohibits abortions in all cases except when necessary to save the life of the mother.
Former state Rep. Jan Nicolay, with South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, the pro-abortion group that filed the signatures, said leaders of the organization will meet in the next few weeks to work on a budget and a campaign to promote the ballot vote to overturn the ban.