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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

South Dakota group claims enough signatures to block abortion ban, force ballot
Joe Shaulis at 1:10 PM ET

[JURIST] A group that opposes South Dakota's abortion ban [text, PDF] announced Tuesday that it has gathered more than enough signatures to prevent the July 1 enactment of the law and place it on the ballot in November. The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families [advocacy website and press release] said its volunteers had gathered more than 37,000 signatures and planned to present them to the office of South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson [official profile] on Tuesday afternoon. If at least 16,728 signatures are deemed valid, voters will decide whether the ban should become law. Gov. Mike Rounds [official website] signed the bill [JURIST report] in March, and within weeks the advocacy group said it would try to put the issue before voters [JURIST report] under the referendum provision of the state constitution [text]. A statute [text] requires the signatures of 5 percent of the state's qualified voters to trigger a referendum.

The law, which abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists alike view as a direct challenge to the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade [opinion text] and subsequent cases, bans all abortions except those necessary to save the pregnant woman's life. A physician convicted of performing an illegal abortion could be fined $5,000 and sentenced to five years in prison. Reuters has more. From Sioux Falls, the Argus Leader has local coverage.

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