- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2006

A newly formed pro-choice group in South Dakota announced plans yesterday for a petition drive aimed at overturning the state’s new law banning most abortions through a ballot referendum in November.

The coalition, which is supported by Planned Parenthood and calls itself the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, must collect the signatures of 16,728 registered voters by June 19 in order to refer the new pro-life law to a public vote on Nov. 7. If it fails, and if there is no further legal challenge, the law would take effect July 1.

The group says it wants voters to have the chance to overturn the “nation’s most extreme abortion law,” which Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican, signed on March 6.

“This law clearly endangers the health of women in South Dakota and violates the right of women and families to make private, personal health care decisions,” the group says on its Web site.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota (PPMNS) issued a statement on its Web site applauding what it called a “major grass-roots mobilization” to allow South Dakota voters “to repeal the state’s new law criminalizing abortions.”

The statement says Planned Parenthood will start an initiative next week called the Stand With the States Campaign, which will be aimed at fighting abortion bans nationwide.

The South Dakota statute is especially restrictive in that it would not allow exceptions for abortions in cases of rape or incest. The only allowable exception would be to save the life of a mother. But the law stipulates that if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger, doctors must try to save the unborn baby as well as the mother.

Mr. Rounds did not comment yesterday on the feasibility of the proposed referendum or its likelihood of success or failure. He said only that South Dakota was one of the first states to allow for the initiative and referendum process, and “it is a well-established part of our political process.”

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