South Dakota: 2006 anti- abortion law and 2008 initiative
Abortion in South Dakota:
About 825 abortions are performed yearly in South Dakota.
Bill HB 1215 was introduced into the legislature with the intent of
triggering the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn of Roe v. Wade.
It was signed into law by Governor Mike Rounds (R) 2006-MAR-06
It criminalized almost all abortions in the state. Only abortions necessary
to save the life of the woman were allowed.
It containrd no exceptions to permit abortions in the case of rape or incest. It
did not allow an exception to prevent serious and/or permanent disability to
The law prohibited termination of human life at any time after conception.
That is, once conception has occurred, childbirth is compulsory, unless
a miscarriage happens. The wording of the law appears to be ambiguous on
the topic of emergency contraception (EC). Arguments can be made that the law
either criminalizes or allows EC. The section of the law that appears at first
glance to permit EC may in fact be a stealth clause that prohibits it.
Normally, the law would have taken effect in 2006-JUL. However, pro-choice forces raised
sufficient signatures to delay implementing the law until the public was able to vote on the issue
during the mid-term elections on 2006-NOV-07. The
law was defeated by a clear majority and is now dead in the water.
Pro-life groups then had Initiated Measure 11 on the 2008 ballot. It
was more moderate than HB 1215; it had rape, incest, health and death clauses.
It was also defeated by a clear majority of voters and is also dead in the
It appears that the pro-life groups in South Dakota miscalculated the mood of
the state's voters. Their cause would have been better served by promoting
legislation in a more conservative state whose electorate was less pro-choice.