South Dakota Polls Show Conflicting Result on Abortion Ban’s Future

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 15, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Polls Show Conflicting Result on Abortion Ban’s Future Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 15,

Pierre, SD ( — Competing polls in South Dakota conducted by both sides of the abortion debate find conflicting results in terms of what state residents want on abortion. The state, which saw voters reject an abortion ban with the life of the mother exception, appeared ready for a ban with rape and incest exceptions at the end of the last debate.

Media polls showed after the 2006 elections that a majority of state voters would accept a ban as long as it had those rare exceptions in place.

But Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota says a new poll it conducted shows 52 percent of state voters don’t want another abortion ban on the ballot next year while 42 percent support it.

"This issue appears to be coming to the forefront again by a small group of people trying to push another abortion ban before voters," Kate Looby, state director for Planned Parenthood, told the Argus Leader newspaper.

However, if an abortion ban is placed before voters again, a poll by the Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls find it should get the support of 55 percent who say they are pro-life.

According to its survey, 30 percent of voters say abortions should only be legal in those rare cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. Another 25 percent want abortions illegal in every case or only to protect the mother’s life.

Just 39 percent of South Dakota residents back legal abortion, according to the survey Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling company, conducted for the group.

"This is an area of interest for people, pro-life people across the state," Kimberly Martinez, executive director of the group, told the Leader. "We wanted to find out how people were feeling about the issue at this time."

State Rep. Roger Hunt, a Republican who helped push the ban last time, has said either a ballot proposal or another legislative effort to ban abortions is likely next year.

"Stay tuned," Hunt said. "I do believe the pro-life interests across the state are looking at both of these routes."

Voters rejected the first abortion ban on a 56 to 44 margin at the polls last November.

A survey by the Maryland-based firm Research 2000 found voters would be more inclined to support the abortion ban if it included exceptions for rape and incest, with 58 percent saying they would support such a ban and 30 percent saying they would not.

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.