Thursday, June 01, 2006

S.D. Abortion Ban Oppponents Petition
S.D. Abortion Ban Oppponents Petition
The Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. -- An abortion rights group Tuesday submitted more than twice the number of the signatures needed to hold a statewide vote in November on whether to repeal South Dakota's ban on abortion.

The Legislature earlier this year passed the strictest abortion law in the nation, banning all abortions except those necessary to save a woman's life. The law, scheduled to take effect July 1, makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The measure was aimed at sparking a court fight that supporters hope will lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the right to an abortion.

The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families said it turned in more than 38,000 signatures for a statewide referendum. The South Dakota secretary of state's office will check the validity of the signatures and determine whether the measure qualifies for the ballot.

Jan Nicolay, co-chairwoman of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, said she believes it would be the nation's first statewide election on abortion since Roe v. Wade. Opponents of the ban decided to pursue a popular vote instead of filing a lawsuit.

"We would prefer this be dealt with by the people of the state of South Dakota and not spend a lot of money fighting a legal battle," Nicolay said.

Leslee Unruh, an abortion opponent who lobbied for the ban, said she believes South Dakotans will do what is right. "I believe we are a pro-life state," she said.

Opponents of the ban need close to 17,000 valid signatures to put the issue on the ballot.