South Dakota Abortion Ban Goes to Voters as Petition Signatures Certified

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Abortion Ban Goes to Voters as Petition Signatures Certified

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 19, 2006

Pierre, SD ( — South Dakota voters will have the chance to voice their opinion on a statewide abortion ban the state legislature approved earlier this year. Today, Secretary of State Chris Nelson certified that abortion advocates filed enough petitions to take the abortion ban to the November ballot.

The ballot measure will ask state residents whether they want to keep or get rid of the abortion ban, which prohibits abortions in all cases with the exception of extremely rare circumstances when its necessary to save the life of the mother.

Supporters of the ban hope voters will back it and that it will eventually be used to topple the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that allowed virtually all abortions.

Should voters uphold the abortion ban, Planned Parenthood, which runs the only abortion business in the state and led the signature-gathering effort, could still take the measure to court and prevent its enforcement.

Leslee Unruh, who runs a local crisis pregnancy center in Sioux Falls and is the head of a national abstinence education group, says pro-life advocates in South Dakota will pull out all the stops to support the ban at the polls.

"It’s probably the loudest cry we’ve heard," she said about the outpouring of support for the ban, she told the Associated Press. "It’s because there are so many women who have been harmed by abortion, myself being one of them, who have come together."

Jan Nicolay, a former state lawmaker who led the signature-gathering effort, told AP there’s no guarantee of success in November.

"It’s no slam dunk. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us," Nicolay said. "We’ll give it all we’ve got, I can tell you that."

Abortion advocates needed 17,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot and they turned in more than 30,000 to Nelson’s office.

The legislature approved the ban and Governor Mike Rounds, a pro-life Republican, signed it in March and it was slated to take effect on July 1, but that will be postponed until South Dakota voters weigh in.

The Senate voted 23-12 and the House of Representatives 50-18 for the ban.