Poll Shows South Dakotans Against Proposed Ban on Most Abortions

A scientific poll done last week for the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls showed that South Dakotans are leaning against a proposed ban on nearly all abortions in the state.

And the percentage of those who plan to vote no on the ballot measure has increased since the last such survey in July.

The poll of 800 registered voters found that 52 percent opposed the measure that overwhelmingly passed the 2006 Legislature. Forty-two percent favored the proposed ban on abortions, and just 6 percent were undecided.

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The poll also found that the proposed ban on abortions would have more support if it allowed abortions in cases of rape and incest.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research conducted the telephone survey on Oct. 24-26. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

In the July poll, 59 percent of those against the ban or undecided said they would vote for it with a rape and incest exception, while 29 percent said no and, 12 percent were undecided.

The July to October poll probably helped spur the education and get-out-the-vote campaigns conducted by those on both sides of the issue, said Don Dahlin, associate professor of political science at the University of South Dakota.

Dahlin said the new poll indicates the two sides have split the difference in undecided voters.

"When you get over 52 percent, with as few undecideds and getting as close as we are (to the election), it does look like that the voters' opinion is against this bill," he said. "It is going to be a question of who's going to get their folks out to actually vote."

South Dakotans have divergent opinions on the ban.

Mary Linn Bruce of Yankton grappled with the rape and incest issue before deciding to cast a yes vote.

"I came to believe it's better to bring that life into the world and give the baby away to parents who want it than to destroy it," Bruce said.

George Wieland of Aberdeen said his mind has always been made up on the matter, and the rape and incest issue is a large reason why he'll vote against the measure.

"It's too constrictive," he said.

And some view the proposed ban on abortions as government meddling in private affairs.

"I do not think that issue is in the realm of state government or any other government," said Amy Opbroek of Mitchell. "I've felt that way for many years that it's a personal issue."

Both campaigns for and against Referred Law 6, as the abortion ban is called on the Nov. 7 ballot, say there's a lot of work to do in the week before Election Day.

"This doesn't give us anything for us to sit back on our laurels about," said Jan Nicolay, co-chairwoman of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, the group that collected enough signatures to put the measure to a public vote. "Nobody can sit back and take the voters for granted."

"People of South Dakota need to vote their hearts and their consciences," said Leslee Unruh, campaign manager for Vote Yes for Life, the group formed to uphold the ban. "They need forget the rhetoric and vote what they know what is right in their hearts."