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South Dakotans Taking it to the Street – over Abortion Politics

October 11, 2007

Sioux Falls SD – Despite the failure of a ballot measure last year, and legislation this year, that would have banned most abortions in South Dakota, there are continuing rumblings that the issue could be back for another debate -- which has some frustrated South Dakotans taking to the streets. The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families is canvassing residents, to gather opinions as well as signatures. Jan Nicolay co-chairs the group and says she heard from a lot of people after the last legislative battle.

"They thought the legislature ought to work on other issues in South Dakota, like economic development, education funding and health care. We took that information and we're going door-to-door, talking to people and checking to see if that's still their stance. So far, it is, and we're just going to encourage them to tell their legislators that this is how they feel."

Nicolay says South Dakota voters sent a clear message when they rejected a law banning nearly all abortions.

"I think they spoke pretty strongly. They didn't want the government, the legislators, telling them what to do. Because every circumstance is unique, they thought it was something the members of the family, their church and doctor should decide what would be in the best interest of their family."

Nicolay says South Dakota already has the lowest abortion rate in the nation, as well as some of the most restrictive abortion laws.

"We have parental notification. Nothing can be done after the first trimester, and there is a mandatory waiting period. If you look at the research, South Dakota is listed as one of the states that has the most restrictions on abortion. I think we ought to really be working hard on how to prevent abortion instead of spending our time, money and energy on these kinds of battles."

Volunteers and paid staff have visited 4,000 homes across the state. The canvass will continue in ten communities through November.

David Law/John Robinson, Public News Service - SD