Petition Drive Seeks to Undo South Dakota Abortion Ban

Monisha Bansal | Staff Writer | Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Petition Drive Seeks to Undo South Dakota Abortion Ban

( - South Dakota's abortion ban, which liberals and conservatives expect will serve as the basis for the next Supreme Court debate on abortion rights, should have been decided by the state's voters instead of its politicians, according to the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families.

The group submitted a petition Tuesday to the South Dakota secretary of state's office asking that the abortion ban, which was signed into law by South Dakota's Republican Gov. Mike Rounds in March, be placed on the ballot as a referendum in November.

"We have very strong feelings that this would not represent the people of South Dakota," said former South Dakota Republican State Rep. Jan Nicolay on a conference call Tuesday.

In order for the abortion ban to be placed on the ballot, 16,700 certified signatures are needed. The petition drive has attracted 37,846 signatures so far, Nicolay said, which will be examined over the next two to three weeks.

State Rep. Roger Hunt, the Republican who sponsored the abortion ban, said it was the right time for the legislation. "Every year that goes by, there are more and more unborn children, whose lives are being terminated," Hunt said on March 7, 2006, according to USA Today.

According to the text of the law scheduled to take effect July 1, "To fully protect the rights, interests, and health of the pregnant mother, the rights, interest, and life of her unborn child, and the mother's fundamental natural intrinsic right to a relationship with her child, abortions in South Dakota should be prohibited."

The law further states that "life begins at the time of conception, a conclusion confirmed by scientific advances since the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, including the fact that each human being is totally unique immediately at fertilization."

But Nicolay said the law is an "extreme ban on abortion," and that South Dakotans don't like having a national political debate being played out in their state. "This is a piece of legislation passed by our state legislature that would definitely create a legal battle waged in front of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade," said Nicolay.

Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League, said the signatures collected by the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families are "hardly a mandate."

"When this comes up for a vote in November the people of South Dakota will support the law and soundly defeat this effort," he said. "It is a pro-life state, the people there are very dedicated to life from fertilization to natural death, and simply agree with this law," Sedlak told Cybercast News Service.

He also believes that the South Dakota abortion ban will cause the U.S. Supreme Court to eventually overturn Roe v. Wade. As a result, Seklak said he was "excited about an America that once again respects life."

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