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Abortion question to make November ballot

An abortion rights protest in downtown Rapid City on June 24 follow the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade
Lee Strubinger
An abortion rights protest in downtown Rapid City on June 24 follow the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade

South Dakotans will vote on whether to legalize abortion in November.

That’s according to the Secretary of State’s office, which validated the proposed ballot question Thursday.

The Secretary of State’s office said Dakotans for Health submitted 46,098 valid signatures, according to their random sample of petition signatures. It’s 11,000 more than the group needed to make the ballot at a nearly 85 percent validity rate.

South Dakota has a near total abortion ban. The only exception is to save the life of the mother. Some health officials say the current law is unclear.

“If there’s any doubt out there that people are worked up about this complete abortion ban we have in South Dakota and want the right to make this decision at the ballot box and not have it made by the politicians, I think it’s pretty clear. I mean, 46,000 valid signatures," said Rick Weiland, the primary backer of the ballot question. 

Constitutional Amendment G establishes the right to an abortion. It prohibits the state from imposing abortion restrictions in the first trimester, some in the second trimester and allow for a total ban in the third—except to preserve the life or health of the mother.

There’s a 30-day window open to challenge the Secretary of State’s validation.

"This fight is about saving the lives of countless unborn children in our state. We are grateful to the many dedicated volunteers who have put in countless hours, and we are resolute in our mission to defend unborn babies," said Leslee Unruh and Jon Hansen, co-chairs of Life Defense, in a statement. "We will continue to research these signatures and announce a challenge at the appropriate time."

This is the third time South Dakota voters have weighed in on abortion in 20 years.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.