Kate Looby is the South Dakota State Director for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS). With this post she begins a regular series of updates she will provide Rewire about the South Dakota ballot initiative.
The voters of South Dakota are being asked to decide whether or not they support a near total ban on abortion in our state. The only exception in the ban is to save the life of the woman. Section 3 of the bill which passed through the legislature and which Governor Rounds signed last winter does allow for the use of contraception – most of us weren't aware that we needed permission from the legislature to use birth control, but the opponents of legal abortion found it necessary to mention that in the bill.
South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families (SDCHF) is the ballot committee which collected enough signatures, in fact more than twice as many as needed, to place the law on the ballot before it took effect. SDCHF was formed by a group of concerned citizens and organizations in SD. We are led by men and women from different political parties, various professions and from all corners of the state.
The position of SDCHF is that this law is too rigid and too restrictive. It has no exceptions for victims of rape and incest or to preserve the health of the woman. SDCHF has a television ad which began running recently. The group organized to support the ban, Vote Yes for Life, has sent a letter from their attorney to all of the television stations and to the state's Attorney General, claiming that the ad is "false and misleading" and requesting that the station "exercise its duty to protect the public and immediately remove the Advertisement from the public airwaves."
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They object to the ad because it points out clearly that for victims of rape and incest and women whose health is put at risk by continuing the pregnancy, there are no options. This is in fact the truth, but they contend that because emergency contraception (EC) is "specifically authorized" in the law, that women do have options in South Dakota.
Our opponents in South Dakota have never wanted to get themselves bogged down by the facts before; it's quite surprising to see them employ this strategy against us. These are the same people who have fought us for years over EC in the Emergency Room by making the claim that EC is the same as abortion. Now they are clinging to EC as the tool that they hope will save their abortion ban. My how things change. I believe the voters will see right through them.