We already knew that South Dakota voters oppose an abortion ban in their state, based on their decision to shoot down such a measure twice in a three year period. But South Dakota Healthy Families decided to take the extra precaution of reminding legislators of this fact as the legislative session begins. And the data shows that voters not only want lawmakers to avoid working on an abortion ban or other measures that restrict access, but also want them to work instead on preventing unintended pregnancies.
Post-election surveying by the group showed people want the focus to shift to preventing unintended pregnancies, co-chairwoman Jan Nicolay said Wednesday.
“The people of South Dakota do not want government intruding into their personal medical decisions,” she said. “We just think everyone should work together on that and not spend time with ballot issues.”
The campaign’s post-election report will be sent to lawmakers. They noted half of the House’s representatives are new, and this is a chance to educate them.
“Constituents do not want their legislators spending this time in Pierre working on abortion bans,” said Casey Murschel, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota.
Just after the election, a poll was conducted, asking 800 voters: “If the state legislature in Pierre were to address the issue of abortion next year, which do you think would be more important for the legislature to address – preventing unwanted pregnancies by supporting family planning, abstinence-first education and birth control, OR working to enact tougher laws to reduce the number of abortions performed in South Dakota?” 58 percent of those polled said our lawmakers should work on preventing unwanted pregnancies. And an additional 5% said the legislature shouldn’t take up the issue of abortion at all.
Yeah, it’s unfortunate that this says “abstinence-first,” and we don’t know how the poll numbers would have changed if the language had instead read “comprehensive sex education.” But we do have to remember that we’re looking at a more conservative area of the U.S., indeed a state that is often argued to be the most anti-choice in the nation, and I think we should therefore be happy that 58% of voters are more or less on the right page. I also think we should be happy that those 58% of voters not only want to avoid another potential abortion ban coming up, but want to avoid more restrictive measures in the state that already has the nation’s most restrictive measures in place, as well.
Even better, the Argus Leader quotes Leslee Unruh, the terrifying South Dakota anti-choice leader/spokesperson of national prominence, as saying that she’ll be backing off the issue this legislative session herself. Which, if it can be believed, would sure as hell be a nice change.