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An End to South Dakota's Abortion Debate?

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January 8, 2008

Pierre, SD - South Dakota lawmakers are back in session today, and they're being called on to end the state's ongoing abortion debate. The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families sent letters to all state lawmakers, asking them to forget about a statewide abortion ban and focus on preventing unintended pregnancies instead.

Campaign spokesperson Jan Nicolay says voters in 32 of South Dakota's 35 legislative districts voted overwhelmingly in 2006, by a 55 percent margin, to overturn the ban. She says any new attempt to place the issue back on the ballot will only further divide communities and families.

"We know from our canvassing and recent polling information that the people of South Dakota are not interested in fighting that battle again. They want legislators to work on issues that are pertinent to all of South Dakota, like health care, education and economic development. So we're hoping the legislature will listen to that, and we're hoping the citizens of South Dakota will recall that and not support the initiative."

A recent Associated Press survey of lawmakers found that about half were in favor of putting a ban on the statewide ballot, but Nicolay says the group has heard from thousands of South Dakotans that preventing unintended pregnancies is a much higher priority.

"To the people, preventing unintended pregnancies is the key to all of this. We want to do everything we can to avoid people having to have an abortion. We hope that the legislature and the people of South Dakota will just continue the work toward that long-term goal of preventing pregnancies that aren't intended and making sure that women still have the right to make the appropriate choices with themselves and their doctors."

She says data collected by her group also show that South Dakota residents want a comprehensive approach to sex education, not abstinence-only education.

David Law/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - SD