Abortion opponents in South Dakota had a simple message for voters in the mid-term election: Vote what you know in your heart is right. More than 148,000 people heeded the call, voting to retain a state law that banned virtually all abortions in South Dakota. Their numbers, however, amounted to just 44 percent of the electorate.
What had been the nation’s most restrictive ban on abortions died as the final votes were tallied in the early morning hours of November 8. Supporters of the ban—which was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mike Rounds earlier in 2006—hoped it would send South Dakota on a collision course with Roe v. Wade. But a majority of voters called off the assault.
The outcome in South Dakota serves as a sobering benchmark for the pro-life movement. The state is among the most socially conservative in the nation, and, if abortions can’t be banned in South Dakota, pro-lifers face a long march to reach their goal of eradicating abortion in the United States.
Despite the defeat, pro-lifers in South Dakota aren’t waving any white flags. In the days following the election, supporters of the ban pondered their next move, and there will almost certainly be another attempt by pro-life lawmakers to restrict abortion during South Dakota’s 2007 legislative session.
The South Dakota...