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Abortion Rights Groups in South Dakota Gather Sufficient Signatures to Advance Ballot Measure

South Dakota abortion rights groups (Credits: The Hill)

The movement to enshrine abortion access in South Dakota’s constitution has taken a step forward as a coalition of reproductive rights advocates successfully submitted more than enough signatures to move the proposed amendment closer to appearing on the November ballot.

Led by Dakotans for Health, the group collected over 55,000 signatures from registered voters, surpassing the 35,000 needed to proceed with the ballot initiative. Anticipating opposition in the conservative state, the group aimed to gather a substantial number of signatures well ahead of the submission deadline.

South Dakota abortion-rights initiative supporters (Credits: Common Dreams)

The proposed constitutional amendment aims to legalize abortion in all situations during the first trimester of pregnancy. It allows for state regulation of abortion in the second trimester, contingent upon its relation to the physical health of the pregnant individual.

In the third trimester, regulation or prohibition is permitted except when deemed necessary by a physician to preserve the life or health of the woman.

Advocates of the amendment argue that it would restore women’s personal freedom and overturn South Dakota’s strict abortion ban, aligning with the protections outlined in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

If passed, the amendment would reverse the state’s near-total ban on abortion, which was reinstated following the demise of Roe v. Wade in 2022. South Dakota’s existing law prohibits most abortions except when essential to save the woman’s life.

Abortion rights advocates (Credits: CNN)

Despite reaching the signature threshold, abortion-rights supporters still face serious challenges, including legal opposition from abortion opponents who have been contesting the initiative in court for over a year.

Additionally, the conservative nature of the state poses uncertainty regarding the amendment’s chances of success in the November election, given South Dakota’s strong support for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

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