U.S, South Dakota: abortion ban petitions headed to vote

The measure passed by state lawmakers this year would ban nearly all abortions in South Dakota and is intended to prompt a court challenge aimed at overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, the AP reports.

About 1,200 volunteers in 138 South Dakota communities collected signatures for the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, said co-chairwoman Jan Nicolay.

Nelson's office will have to verify that the petitions contain the required 16,728 valid signatures to place the question on the November ballot.

The group has been collecting petition signatures to instead refer the abortion measure to a statewide vote, the AP reports.

Leslee Unruh, a Sioux Falls anti-abortion advocate who lobbied for the ban, said she believes South Dakotans will do what is right to protect women and children.

Opponents of the law argue it is too extreme because it provides no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of women.

Supporters have pointed to a section of the bill that allows emergency contraceptives to be given to rape and incest victims.

Dr. Maria Bell, who served as vice chair of a 17-member abortion task force, said emergency contraception is not a valid option for victims of rape and incest.

Unruh said there have been questions about whether signatures were collected properly, and supporters of the ban plan to comb through the names to make sure they are valid.

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