South Dakota: Campaign Progress and New TV Ad

[img_assist|nid=623|title=Watch Video Below|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=75]As we get closer to the election, things are heating up in the campaign to defeat the South Dakota abortion ban. This morning I attended a briefing sponsored by the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families (SDCHF), NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS). Leaders from these organizations discussed the progress of the campaign, the implications that it has for other states and the nation, and gave a preview of the campaign's second TV ad.

The second TV ad was released by SDCHF today and will begin airing statewide on Thursday. According to the campaign:

The ad, entitled "Reminder," features Mary Jones, a Sioux Falls licensed marriage and families therapist who has worked with numerous women and girls who have been victims of rape and incest.

As Kate Looby from PPMNS discussed in her post about the SD campaign yesterday, this effort is a grassroots movement made up of South Dakotans – men, women, doctors, neighbors, mothers, and citizens – many of whom are becoming involved in politics for the first time because they think that the state government has gone too far.

At the briefing this morning, Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL, underscored the feeling that the politicians have overstepped their authority, emboldened by the conservative political climate. Casey Murschel, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota and a state legislator, emphasized that the abortion ban is not a partisan issue – it's about politics affecting private, personal decisions.

Why is this campaign important? The outcome of the ban will affect 14 other states that, according to Keenan, are considering similar legislation but are waiting to see what happens in South Dakota. The president of PPMNS, Sarah Stoesz, is hopeful about the positive implications of this campaign; she highlighted the resurgence of the reproductive rights movement nationally and the transformation happening on the local level in South Dakota. Lindsay Roitman, campaign manager for SDCHF, and Murschel agreed that people are talking to their neighbors about this issue and progress is being made through personal contact with voters.

The battle in South Dakota is especially interesting, given that sponsors of the ban did not expect it to be decided by the voters. "They didn't want a public vote," explained Stoesz. Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, added that the pro-choice movement has successfully defeated anti-abortion ballot initiatives in the past, but this is the first time that the opposition is on the defensive. The anti-abortion movement would like this fight to end up in the courts, which is where it will go if referred law 6 passes.

National implications are more worrisome, with the Supreme Court set to take up the federal abortion ban case on November 8th. While that ban would not overturn Roe, it would eviscerate it, stated Keenan, drastically reducing access to abortion. South Dakota is not the end of the fight, Michelman reminded us. This is the first step in a long struggle, but it's not hopeless because of conversations like this.

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