South Dakota Abortion Ban, Initiative 11 (2008)
An Abortion Ban Initiative will appear on the November 2008 ballot in South Dakota as an initiated constitutional amendment. The ban measures is known as Initiated Measure 11. If the state's voters approve it, the South Dakota Constitution will henceforward ban all abortions in the state except for those performed because of rape, incest or to protect the woman's health. Doctors who perform an abortion in violation of this initiative's provisions could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which in South Dakota carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.
Pro-life measures have been attempted twice in the last two legislative sessions in South Dakota. The first attempt was in 2006 when the state legislature passed HB 1215, a bill that banned all abortion except those undertaken to protect a woman's health. Pro-choice organizers then collected signatures under the state's veto referendum laws, putting the new bill before the voters in the Abortion Ban Referendum. About 44% of South Dakota's voters agreed with the legislature's bill, so it was rejected and never took effect. The legislature's repudiated bill would have assigned criminal penalties to those that performed abortions outside of the new parameters.
HB 1215 was introduced by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortions, which would "study and evaluate medical evidence, reporting findings, and make recommendations as to the need or any additional legislation governing medical procedures." The task force included a total of four doctors and the husband of one of the HB 1215's proponents, Dr. Allen Unruh.
The groups and individuals who backed the 2006 legislative bill are the main sponsors of Initiated Measure 11. Supporters include Dr. Patricia Giebink, a Chamberlain obstetrician-gynecologist who preformed abortions in 1996 and 1997 before becoming a pro-life advocate. The other 12 sponsors of the petition are: Leah Anderson of Sioux Falls; Rep. Mary Glenski, D-Sioux Falls; Debra Hoy of Gregory; Karen Nelson of Elkton; Nicole Osmundson of Sioux Falls; Stacey Wollman of Rapid City; Allen Carlson of Rapid City; Robert Fischer of Rapid City; Dr. Donald Oliver of Rapid City; Dr. Ann Church of Spearfish; Kala Kickul of Sioux Falls; and Rory King of Aberdeen.  The group is known as Vote Yes For Life.
The stated reason behind their desire to ban abortion is to "stop abortion from being used as birth control".  To that end, the Pastor Urgency Tour scheduled for February 26 through March 1, 2008 has begun. The goal of the Urgency Tour is to "Rally 300 Pastors to collect signatures in their churches and get the people in their churches to collect signatures in their cities."
Arguments for ban
Some arguments that have been made in favor of the ban include:
- The initiative "does allow exceptions for incest, rape, and the health of the mother."
The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families is the leading opponent of the measure. It is "a coalition fighting abortion bans in South Dakota. We are a political committee registered with the South Dakota Secretary of State and the IRS and formed in an effort to repeal HB 1215, the ban on abortions."  The Campaign is co-chaired by fourteen prominent South Dakota leaders. The group has successfully campaigned against the last two measures brought before the legislature.
A poll taken in 2007 by a Washington, D.C.-based polling company showed that 75% of South Dakotans believe there are alternative methods short of criminalizing abortion in order to reduce the abortion rate in the state. The poll also showed that 52 percent do not support the issue being on the ballot.
Arguments against ban
Some arguments that have been made against the ban are:
- The state's medical community is opposed to the ban.
- It is "a dangerous government intrusion into the private medical decisions that affect how doctors treat women".
- The constitutionality of the measure has been called into question by South Dakota attorney general Larry Long, who takes note that if the law is passed and then challenged as violating the federal constitution, lawsuit costs to defend it will be borne by the South Dakota government.,
- Studies that have been promoted in South Dakota to conclude that abortion harms women have been criticized. Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, said one report was filled with dishonest statements. "That's when I hit the ceiling. The report is theologically based, has patent untruths and misrepresentations, and no reasonable attention was paid to any amendments."
- See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.
|Month of Poll||Polling company||In Favor||Opposed||Undecided|
|October 2008||Sioux Falls Argus Leader||44 percent||44 percent||12 percent|
Opponents to the proposed measure have raised and spent more than double what supporters have. The opposition campaign, South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, received approximately $1.7 million in contributions and have spent $1.6 million of it. Meanwhile, supporters VoteYesForLife.com raised $720,000 and spent $700,000 on its campaign to get the ballot measure passed. 
According to a timeline created by the Associated Press:
- 1980: Legislature passes law requiring a 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion.
- 1981: Dr. Buck Williams begins to perform abortions at his clinic in Sioux Falls.
- 1994: Planned Parenthood takes over operation of the Sioux Falls clinic.
- 1997: Legislature passes a parental notification law.
- 1997: Legislature passes a ban on partial-birth abortion.
- 1998: Legislature passes law saying pharmacists don't have to dispense medications that would be used to cause an abortion or assist in a suicide.
- 2000: Legislature passes law prohibiting anyone other than a doctor from performing or inducing abortions.
- 2004: Legislature passes bill to ban abortions. Vetoed by governor.
- 2005: Legislature passes law that bans abortion if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortions.
- 2005: Law goes into effect requiring parents to be notified if their minor daughter has an emergency abortion.
- 2006: Legislature passes bill banning abortions that results in the [[South Dakota Abortion Ban Referendum (2006).
- July 2008: Law that requires doctors to ask women if they want to see ultrasounds before an abortion goes into effect.
- July 2008: Enforcement begins of a 2005 law that requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions the procedure ends a human life.
- September 2008: South Dakota Supreme Court asked to decide whether the name must be made public of the person who gave $750,000 in support of the South Dakota Abortion Ban Referendum (2006).
- November 2008: Vote on Measure 11.
Path to the ballot
Supporters of the initiative collected more than twice the amount of signatures required to put the measure on the ballot in November, and the measure was subsequently certified to appear on the November ballot.