Referendum Campaign Launched Against South Dakota Abortion Ban

A new coalition called South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families announced on Friday that it was launching a referendum campaign to repeal the South Dakota abortion ban. The law, which will take effect in July, bans all abortions in South Dakota except those necessary to save the life of the woman – even victims of rape and incest are prohibited from receiving an abortion in the state under the punitive law.

“An overwhelming majority of South Dakotans believe that the Governor and the legislature went too far. This legislation is extreme and does not reflect the values of South Dakotans who want families to be able to make personal decisions about health care without government interference,” said Jan Nicolay, spokesperson for the campaign. The coalition must gather 16,728 signatures of registered voters in the state by June 5 in order to qualify for the November 6 ballot.

At least nine other states are considering similar bans, including Mississippi, where the Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the sole abortion clinic. “Mississippi has been extremely punitive to women’s rights in a lot of different ways, so this amendment is in keeping with this tradition,” Susan Hill, the owner of the sole abortion clinic in Mississippi, told Ms. magazine. “But we’re not going anywhere Ñ we’re going to fight this until the bitter end.”

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South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families release 3/24/06; Ms. Magazine

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