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SD Campaign for Healthy Families Opens Its Doors

July 23, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD – For the second time in as many years, an abortion ban initiative is on the November ballot in South Dakota. Proponents say Initiated Measure 11 would prevent abortions from being used as birth control, while the leading opponents say it prevents families from making their own private decisions.

Jan Nicolay, with the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, says the ban would force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, even when there's no chance of survival outside the womb. She says nothing is tougher on a family than knowing they don't have a choice.

"We've got to let our families make the decisions. We don't need people imposing their beliefs and their ideas on families. We have to recognize that South Dakotans are responsible. They can make good decisions, and we should let them make the decision in terms of what's best for their particular circumstances and their family."

The ban would prohibit all abortions in the state except for those performed because of rape, incest or to protect the mother's health. Nicolay says the exceptions come up short, however, because they're only effective when a report is made and medical tests done.

"It lists exactly what doctors have to do to take samples and store them. That means that an incest victim--and these victims always hesitate to come forward--will not come forward if they have to go through that, because it's usually a family member or a close friend. And rape victims don't come forward in a timely manner, either."

Nicolay, a former high school principal, says that date rape is another example where she was involved with students who had no way to have the tests performed in a timely manner.

The ballot measure says doctors who perform an abortion in violation of the initiative could be charged with a Class 4 felony. In South Dakota, that crime carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.

David Law/Steve Powers, Public News Service - SD