South Dakota: Initiated Measure 11 Defeated

Among the good things that came out of this election was the defeat of a draconian anti-abortion law that would have banned almost all abortions in South Dakota.

Here is an editorial in a local paper, the Aberdeen News, urging voters to reject the measure:

Initiated Measure 11 would prohibit abortions in South Dakota except in cases where the mother’s life or health is at a substantial and irreversible risk, and in cases of reported rape and incest.

The American News is recommending a no vote on Measure 11.

Regardless of the reworked allowables presented in this measure (rape, incest, mother’s health/life), we believe that Measure 11, at its base level, still intrudes where it shouldn’t: government intervention in a supremely personal decision. Such an intensely intimate decision whether to undergo such a procedure belongs to the woman, her husband/partner, her family, her physician and her faith minister.

This is one place (among others) where government has no business interfering. We believe that many of the arguments for – and against – Measure 11 are saturated with political agendas that have no merit and do very little to provide tangible guidance for a woman who might be contemplating such a procedure.

In the United States there has been more written about the issue of abortion – any type or nuance – than almost any other subject in the past 25 years. Other than war it might be the most highly charged and divisive debate that occurs in America.

It is also an intensely personal debate where acceptance of – or condemnation of – the issue rarely changes in people’s minds. The terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are poor defining terms that too harshly and narrowly categorize believers on either side of the issue.

To suggest that everyone who is pro-choice is anxious for the procedure and is a baby killer is just as much poppycock as intimating that everyone who is pro-life wants a pox on nonbelievers and is anxious to bomb clinics. Similarly, this should not be a scientific discussion as to when life begins. Experts on both sides can provide ample medical evidence that supports their political point of view.

The debate over abortion rights has always rendered countless real-life examples that are heart wrenching. Because of this, we believe that no woman enters into the decision to have an abortion without a great deal of personal introspection and mental anguish. That’s as it should be.

We don’t believe that any government agency or legislation (state or federal) has a part in that decision, and therefore, we urge a no vote on Initiated Measure 11 this Nov. 4.

The interesting part is that the local Right to Life organization in South Dakota also opposed the measure — because it included too many protections for the mother:

For the second time in two years, South Dakotans have rejected a proposed state law that would have banned most abortions and perhaps set up a U.S. Supreme Court challenge on Roe v. Wade.

With more than 80 percent of the precincts reporting, Initiated Measure 11 was losing 55 percent to 45 percent.

This year’s ballot measure was less restrictive than the 2006 issue, which was rejected by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.

The new version would outlaw abortions but included exceptions for rape, incest and pregnancies that threaten the life or health of the woman. Some voters said they wanted those exceptions when they rejected the earlier version.

Opponents of Initiated Measure 11 said it would jeopardize the patient-doctor relationship because physicians could be criminally charged for exceeding its bounds.

Supporters said the focus is on preventing abortions in South Dakota, and doctors abiding by standard medical practices would have nothing to fear.

South Dakota Right To Life had urged voters to reject Initiated Measure 11. The group supported the 2006 measure but not the latest one because the exceptions were added.

The abortion ban was defeated 55% to 45%.

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