by Steven Ertelt
November 8, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — South Dakota voters rejected a statewide abortion ban on Tuesday that would have had the state prohibit all abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother. Polls before the voting began showed the ban heading to defeat because it didn’t contain exceptions for rape and incest.
With 100 percent of the precincts in the state reporting, Referred Law 6 was defeat 56-44 as 185,948 voters opposed it while 148,666 voters backed the measure.
Had South Dakota voters upheld the abortion ban, Planned Parenthood, which runs the only abortion business in the state, would have taken the law to court. That could have led to a battle to challenge Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that allowed virtually unlimited abortions.
Abortion advocates were elated by the results.
"This means that there has been a rebellion against social, right-wing wedge politics that have been dominating this country," Sarah Stoesz, chief of Planned Parenthood’s operations in the Dakotas and Minnesota, told Reuters.
However, the abortion ban’s defeat doesn’t necessarily mean South Dakota residents support abortion or don’t want to see most abortions prohibited.
Polls before the vote showed the ban would have been approved easily had it included exceptions for rape or incest, though pro-life advocates don’t support aborting babies for those reasons.
Annie Schulte, president of the College Republicans, said that was likely the reason the abortion ban was defeated.
"The reason a lot of people didn’t agree with the Governor on the abortion ban might be because it did not have the exceptions," Schulte said.
State Representative Roger Hunt of Brandon says lawmakers will likely deal with the issue again in the legislative session that opens in January. He says possibilities include another ban with exceptions for situations such as rape and incest.
Representatives of Vote Yes for Life declined to comment and had not released a statement about the abortion ban’s defeat by press time.
Women hurt by abortion are saddened that abortion will continue to bring devastation to women in South Dakota.
“Abortion harms women and families. It’s destructive to the culture,” said Caron Strong, the national director of Operation Outcry, a group that gives a voice for women who regret their abrotions.
“As women who have been hurt by abortion, we are disappointed that the voters of South Dakota were misled by the rhetoric involving the rape and incest provision in the law and failed to support the South Dakota’s ban on abortion,” Strong, who has had an abortion, said.
Despite its loss, the abortion ban has already prompted other states to consider similar measures and state legislatures in even more states may follow South Dakota’s lead next year.
Polls on the abortion ban appeared to have been on the right track leading up to Tuesday night’s vote.
The last survey, by the Maryland-based firm Research 2000, was conducted last week for Sioux Falls television station KELO.
The poll found Referred Law 6 behind with 50 percent of voters opposing it and 41 percent backing it. Nine percent of state voters were still undecided.