Interview w/ ACLU on SD abortion ban (03/07/06)

The graphic is from the American Civil Liberties Union of the Dakotas.    Last night I interviewed its director Jennifer Ring for the Free Press, having  read in the New York Times  that  Governor Mike Rounds signed the South Dakota abortion ban into law earlier in the day.  Ring  is glad that the law is so clearly unconsitutional. 

I recognize a bull’s eye walking through the room when I see it. 

Ring is not so sure that the Supreme Court would decide to overturn Roe and cites these points:

* Stevens is old, but she’s not heard that he’s in bad health.

* It would take more than two years to get through the courts.

*There are elections this year which might change the make-up of the Senate, the body confirming any new justices

* No one can be absolutely certain of Alito’s position and there is even more question with regard to Roberts. It’s more than than what they believe about abortion personally.  It’s about their belief in unenumerated rights, State versus Federal authority and the weight of precident.

The New York Time’s has archived all its articles on the topic “The Supreme Court in Transition.”


For those individuals who believe this is the right approach to taking apart Roe v. Wade, this is the opportunity to find out at least for the next few years whether or not this Supreme Court will consider this as the right vehicle to address abortion within the United States.”

If the abortion ban is put to a referendum this fall, 

I would not actually campaign either way on this particular issue at this stage of the game.

If opponents gather enough signatures to refer the measure to a public vote, the law would be suspended pending the outcome of the November election. If voters rejected it, the law would be scrapped permanently. If voters accepted the measure, opponents could still go to court and argue it is unconstitutional.

Jennifer Stockman, co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice, said

Proponents of these bans claim to be conservatives, but have finally shown their true colors by promoting the ultimate in big government intrusion.

Dr.  Robert Burns, head of the political science department at South Dakota State University in Brookings, said a public vote on the issue could be interesting if opponents gather enough signatures by late June to put it on the November ballot.   Burns said polls suggest that the majority of South Dakotans would not support such a strict ban on abortion because the measure would not allow it even in cases of rape or incest. Less than a third of South Dakotans appear to support banning abortion in all cases, while the rest either support abortion rights or at least allowing it in limited cases such as rape or incest, he said. If the abortion measure is referred to a public vote, that could have an impact on legislative races and possibly even the gubernatorial election, Burns said.

The Aberdeen paper also ran a story yesterday, detailing how hard it is to get an abortion already in South Dakota and how other states are lining up to ban abortion.


According to the Sioux Falls  Argus Leader, Representatives of National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice South Dakota, South Dakota Advocacy Network for Women, Planned Parenthood of South Dakota, and State Rep. Elaine Roberts, D-Sioux Falls, in a press conference this morning outlined the major thrusts of challenges against the ban.  These include:

§ Denouncing legislators for failing to reach out to pro-choice advocates on a common agenda to reduce the use of adortions as birth control by ensuring contraception and sex education are readily available

§ Questioning the establishment of a legal defense fund to receive contributions to pay for court challenges to the new abortion law

§ Consolidating support among women to view the law as a dismissive attack on women’s rights

§ Recruiting legislative candidates to run agaist those who voted for the bill.

The Rapid City Journal,  after asking the Governor to veto the ban, because it lacked an exception for rape or incest, editorialized today,

It would be nice if South Dakota had made national news because of the passage of thoughtful legislation that improves the lives of all who live in the state rather than becoming the poster child for banning nearly all abortions.

We won’t know for several years if the Legislature’s passage of the anti-abortion law was a precedent-setting action or a costly mistake. The governor’s signature on the abortion ban now sets in motion a legal war that South Dakotans and the nation will watch with great interest.



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