Monday, October 9, 2006

South Dakota Nears Vote on Abortion Ban

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Circled around a living room, sipping coffee, five long-acquainted couples grappled with their stark differences on a topic they would have skirted in the past but now cannot avoid - abortion. Like other South Dakotans, people in this tiny farming town are confronting a historic opportunity on Nov. 7. They'll sway a tortuous national debate by making a choice no statewide electorate has faced before: whether to approve a sweeping ban on virtually all abortions.

"None of us think abortion is a desirable thing," said Tom Dean, a family physician who hosted the discussion along with his wife, Kathy. "But it's not a problem for government to solve by passing a rigid law."

Yet Lynn Ogren, who helps her husband run a sheep and cattle ranch, choked up with emotion as she explained her support for the ban. "I value every child's life, whether it's from a rape or not," she told her friends. "Who's fighting for these kids?"

The measure would allow abortions only to save a pregnant woman's life. It makes no exception for other health concerns, or for cases of rape or incest; a doctor performing illegal abortions could face five years in prison.

The Legislature passed the law overwhelmingly in February, expecting it to be challenged in court and perhaps lead to a U.S. Supreme Court reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Instead of suing, opponents swiftly collected signatures to force a referendum; the law will be scrapped if voters reject it. [....snip] Forbes
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