By Dale Bartscher, Executive Director, South Dakota Right to Life
As an optimist at heart, I unfortunately find myself writing today about a topic that should concern everyone in our beloved state—regardless of political affiliation. In short, there is an effort underway to radically alter the South Dakota Constitution by an organization backed by out-of-state interests.
While certainly not a monolith, the people of our great state generally view the world differently than those on the coasts. Faith, common sense, the rule of law and our state constitution are bedrocks of our way of life. Much like the US Constitution, every word enshrined in our state’s founding document has the power to impact its people’s wellbeing for generations to come. Therefore, all attempted amendments should not leave any questions about its ultimate impact. This is especially true when it comes to the complex issue of abortion.
The petition in question is being circulated by an organization calling itself “Dakotans for Health,” which claims it is only attempting to “Restore Roe v. Wade” on the state level. As someone who is proudly pro-life—valuing both women and babies —it is easy to see how this proposed amendment could open up Pandora’s Box. Frankly, many who describe themselves as pro-choice will find the language overly broad and troubling.
By inserting such language into our state constitution, amendment proponents cannot guarantee that any limits on abortions will stand. In fact, you can look to other states like Michigan and Kansas, which had their own referendum efforts, and steps have been taken to remove the most basic abortion safeguards like parental involvement laws, informed consent, and minimal waiting periods.
The proposed amendment also opens the door to state taxpayer funded abortions. States like Alaska, which has public funded abortions as the result of a constitutional interpretation should serve as a warning for our taxpayers. All of this comes down to the fact that broad changes to our constitution can have lasting consequences.
If “South Dakotans for Health” collects the needed signatures to put the amendment on the ballot, the ensuing campaign will be one filled with incredibly vile rhetoric by its supporters. The “Yes campaign” will likely be funded by Wall Street and Hollywood. All of this is being driven by the abortion industry, which seeks to improve its bottom line.
To be clear, the issue of abortion is one of the heart. For me, I will never forget the first time my wife and I saw our oldest on the sonogram. We experienced the exact same connection and awe with each of our children and grandchildren. At the same time, more compassion has to be shown for women who find themselves in these incredibly difficult situations. Too many women feel that abortion is their only option and I believe this is where we should be putting our attention right now.
Our state would be much better off if the resources used by those pushing this flawed amendment were used to actually help women in need. Our Pregnancy Care Centers, local safety net clinics and countless ministries would welcome the support. Just imagine if the politics of this issue were set aside and the vulnerable were the central focus.
Over the coming months, as I am visiting communities in every corner of our state, there is a good chance that I will be approached to put my name behind this initiative. For my part, I will ‘Decline to Sign’, support the efforts of the LifeDefenseFund.com and I hope that you will do the same. We can and must do better.