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Thread: South Dakota abortion ban battle gets frenzied

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Thumbs down South Dakota abortion ban battle gets frenzied

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — In the downtown headquarters of those opposing a ban on nearly all abortions in this state, there are notes from around the country taped up and down the hallway: “They need to butt out of women’s lives” and “Why did S.D. vote for this?”

    On the other side of town, in a warehouse decorated in pink, the supporters of the ban doggedly work a phone bank, in some cases young children playing nearby.

    The battle here over a statewide ballot measure to install one of the country’s strictest anti-abortion laws is playing out in television commercials, yard signs and Sunday sermons. It is also drawing the attention of national advocates on both sides of the abortion debate, who are watching the campaign with deep intensity and even fear.

    Both sides predict that the outcome of the vote in South Dakota could send the country’s broader debate over abortion rights swerving in new directions, and will set the tone for the fate of similarly strict laws being considered in nearly a dozen other states.

    “I think there’s some sense out there that — ‘By golly, if they can do it there, we’re going to do it here,’ ” said Nancy Keenan, the president of Naral Pro-Choice America, which opposes the South Dakota ban.

    Daniel McConchie, the vice president of Americans United for Life, which favors passage of the measure, said a defeat at the polls on Nov. 7 could take the steam out of efforts to impose even less restrictive measures, like parental notification rules or waiting periods, that have been the focus of the anti-abortion movement in recent years.

    “There’s fear that legislators elsewhere would see what happened there and try to play it safer,” Mr. McConchie said. “That would have a chilling effect on more incremental legislation in other places.”

    The South Dakota ban was passed by the Legislature in February but was pushed to a statewide vote by opponents. If the law survives, it would become a felony for a doctor in South Dakota to perform abortions except to prevent the death of the pregnant woman. The latest poll shows voters leaning against the ban, but its fate remains uncertain and both sides are now clearly searching to grab the last, undecided voters whose views on abortion may fall somewhere in the blurry middle.

    For that, the most extreme arguments are nowhere to be found. No bloody fetuses fill billboards, no absolute claims are being offered about women’s rights.

    Instead, in calls from a phone bank at the ban opponents’ headquarters, volunteers quietly tell potential voters that the law is just too narrow, failing to allow abortions in circumstances like rape or incest. The supporters of the ban, meanwhile, speak in gentle tones about how abortion hurts women.

    “I refuse to show pictures of dead babies,” said Leslee Unruh, who leads Vote Yes For Life, the group that is campaigning for the law, reflecting on methods used by anti-abortion groups. “That’s what the old way was, and that’s why they were losing all these years.”

    The messages may be muted to appeal to moderates, but the debate has nonetheless grown tense.

    Local advocates on each side insist that they are drawing mainly on South Dakotans for help, while also insisting that the other side is getting significant help from wealthy, powerful, well-organized operations outside of the state.

    The Rev. Jerry Falwell issued an Internet plea to his followers, calling on them in September to “counter the propaganda” Planned Parenthood would be promoting. And Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, scoffed at Mr. Falwell’s claims about how much money her group would spend, but acknowledged, “This is really on the top of everyone’s mind.”

    Until the week beginning Oct. 29, the political groups have not been required by state rules to publicly disclose the amount or sources of their money since early summer. They were required to submit financial disclosures to the secretary of state’s office with postmarks of Oct. 31.

    [Neither report had arrived there Tuesday.

    [The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, which has led efforts to oppose the ban, said late Tuesday that the group raised more than $1.8 million (not including in-kind contributions) since late June, all but $160,000 of that from donors outside the state. Vote Yes For Life, which supports the ban, said it was still deciding whether to release some of its figures late Tuesday evening.]

    Oregon and California have abortion measures on their ballots this year, both weighing parental notification laws, similar to provisions for parental notification or consent that exist in various forms in 34 states.

    But because of its breadth and scope, South Dakota’s measure has eclipsed the other two measures when it comes to national campaign efforts, which have included ambitious fund-raising drives and potluck suppers in 233 towns around the country.

    South Dakota’s abortion law was intentionally sweeping and was designed, as Gov. Mike Rounds has described it, as a “full frontal attack” on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.

    If upheld by the voters, the law is also certain to draw a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood — which operates the only abortion clinic in the state, where about 800 abortions are performed a year — setting off the legal battle that the ban’s authors had anticipated and wished for: the most direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in more than a decade. The ban, which could take effect as soon as the state’s vote is certified, would probably be put on hold while the case makes its way through the courts.

    In the continuing quest to sway wavering voters, the debate in recent days has centered on what the law says and does not say about exceptions — a question that seemed not to be in doubt for many months after state lawmakers passed the bill and Governor Rounds signed it in March.

    A month earlier, legislators had voted down amendments that would have allowed abortions in cases of incest, rape or in instances when the pregnant woman’s health would be jeopardized (though not fatally).

    But supporters of the ban, including advocates on a television commercial that has been broadcast around the state, now say there are other exceptions written in the law.

    In the commercial, as more than a dozen doctors — some of the scores of members of a group calling itself South Dakota Physicians for Life — stand together in white coats, stethoscopes draped around their necks, Dr. Mark Rector says: “This measure does provide exception for the life and health of the mother.”

    Asked about the commercial’s assertions, the ban’s supporters say the law includes “an exception” for the health of the mother because it would allow a doctor to treat a sick mother for her illness and, if treatment accidentally resulted in the death of a fetus, that would not be deemed a crime.

    The ban also does not apply to the use of emergency contraception — the so-called “morning after pill” — in the first days after conception, a fact that ban supporters say amounts to “an exception” that would cover rape and incest cases.

    [The new debate may reflect the polls, the latest of which found that 52 percent of those polled said they would vote against the ban, 42 percent for keeping it. Another 6 percent were undecided in the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey published in the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls on Sunday and the margin of error was plus or minus four percentage points.

    [But the poll also found that 56 percent of those who opposed the ban or were undecided said they would support it if it carried a clear exception for rape and incest.]

    In a recent interview, Roger Hunt, a state representative who sponsored the bill, said he and others were clarifying points that had always been part of the law. “Regardless of how we label these things or whether we use the phrase ‘exceptions,’ what we’re saying is that there are these provisions to deal with such cases,” Mr. Hunt said.

    Opponents of the ban have filed complaints with local television stations over the commercial, saying supporters are trying to confuse undecided voters in the final days.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/01/us...gewanted=print
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    I would never get an abortion but I do think every woman has the right to her own choice! I do know people that have and I don't feel any different about the person they are for doing it. I just know that I could never, having 3 children and 1 miscarriage myslef. I do believe woman should be more birth control conscious though big time!!
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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    ^ Uh yeah you forgot to mention men and how they should use birthcontrol as well. It takes two to tango. ^



    As for me: U.S. outta my Uterus goddamnit! im so sick of this shit; i can do what the fuck i want w/ my body when the fuck i want to do it!

    -where the hell is this mentality from where men think they can decide w/ votes what we do w/ ourselves!?!


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