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Mad About Assault on Women’s Rights? Draft Abortion Initiatives by December 1 for 2022 Ballot!!

South Dakotans outraged over the effort by Texas and the theocrat-stacked Supreme Court to outlaw abortion, not to mention Governor Kristi Noem’s promise to follow those American Talibanis in making women second-class citizens will be able to unleash their outrage at the polls 14 months from now. But they can put their activist rage to good use much sooner than that. Thanks to last week’s federal court ruling moving the deadline for initiated-law petitions back from this November 8 to May 3, 2022, activists who would like to change South Dakota’s draconian abortion laws in ways our Legislature never will have the opportunity to write and place on the ballot their own abortion reforms.

Anyone wishing to place a citizen-originated abortion law on the 2022 general election ballot needs to follow this timeline:

  1. Draft statutory language and submit it to the Legislative Research Council for review. Submit that language before December 1, and the LRC must complete its review within fifteen business days. Dilly-dally until December, and the LRC could sit on your initiative language until fifteen days after the end of the 2022 Session (legislators go home March 28; add 15 workdays to get to April 18), far too late to complete the rest of this timeline and launch a spring petition drive.
  2. Receive LRC review, revise your initiative language as you feel appropriate, and submit the final draft of your petition to the Attorney General.
  3. A.G. gets sixty days to review your petition and publish a draft title and explanation.
  4. Thanks to more Republican Legislative interference, A.G. posts his title and explanation and takes public comment on that language (not on your initiative itself, mind you, just on the A.G.’s title and explanation) for ten days.
  5. A.G. gets another ten days to review that public comment and file the final version of his statement.
  6. Generate your final petition, complete with the A.G.’s title and explanation and any fiscal note the LRC may issue, and file the petition with the Secretary of State along with your pre-circulation affidavit and circulator handouts.
  7. Collect 16,961 signatures (plus at least a good 20% cushion) from registered South Dakota voters.
  8. Submit those signed petition sheets all at once with your post-circulation sponsor affidavit to the Secretary of State before 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

Of course, any petitions now need to be in 14-point font, so they can be big enough for Al Novstrup to read (though he’ll never read them, only lie about them and campaign against them), so you’d better keep it short: just repeal all of Chapter 34-23A, South Dakota’s abortion statutes, so the progressive, pro-woman majority you elect in November 2022 can start from scratch writing laws that protect women’s health and autonomy.

And after all, since abortion is a medical procedure that women should be able to freely choose in consultation with their doctors, it is already sufficiently governed by other statutes related to medical procedures. We could delete all of Chapter 34-23A and abortion would remain as regulated as every other legal medical procedure in South Dakota.

Sharp initiative sponsors could draft solid initiative language and submit it to the LRC by the end of this month. If the Attorney General then drags out his newly inflated 80-day review/delay, sponsors could have initiative petitions ready to circulate by January 1, which would be just in time to carry in conjunction with nominating petitions for women’s advocates who are ready to run for Legislature, Governor, and Congress. (You see the synergy I’m thinking of here?)

The two times that South Dakota voters have had the opportunity to state their feelings about abortion bans directly (in 2006 and 2008), they have said they don’t want the state coming between women and their doctors and reproductive choices. It’s again time that we give South Dakota voters the opportunity to directly express their opinion on women’s reproductive autonomy.


  1. Porter Lansing 2021-09-05 14:42

    In South Dakota it matters NOT what the voters want.

    It only matters what the Catholic Church and it’s political lackeys think they should want.

  2. Arlo+Blundt 2021-09-05 15:35

    Well…the pro-choice forces need to organize and get a measure on the 22 ballot….I think we may be surprised by the outcome of an election on an Initiated Law, as voters will have the right to express their political opinion in the privacy of a voting booth.

  3. John+Dale 2021-09-05 17:46

    I am not a Catholic.

    I live in South Dakota.

    I believe life starts at conception because every other place on the human timeline of development is arbitrary.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-09-05 17:49

    Texas is going to be the straw that breaks the Republican back. The around 75% of Americans who are fine with Roe vs Wade(it’s the name of the best rowboat on the bay in Sarasota). The pubs have invited all the crazies for years for their votes but it’s a yugely minority view. It’s just that it’s what they vote on. The vast majority opinion has been it’s a settled issue. Now that it isn’t it’s a campaign issue. Kristi may like it but in the civilized parts of the country you see silence from the pubs it’s going to wipe them out. Our DeSantis is also delusional. He barely won last time, if he pushes this he’s done.

  5. O 2021-09-06 00:55

    For the first time in a very long time, the Republicans can run on making ACTUAL change to the abortion laws of this state (and nation). Now the the Supremes have decided to give implied consent to eroding the boundaries of ROE, the issue is all up for grabs again. “Pro-life” was THE issue for so much of the GOP; it will now become the ONLY issue. Unfortunately, like so many issues, GOP branding is very strong here; Democrats are in heightened danger of being too woggish.

    Pro-choice have relied too long on the Supreme Court being goal tenders on this issue and not really met the GOP head to head when it comes to actual legislation.

  6. Richard+Schriever 2021-09-06 08:47

    Mr. Lansing is correct – in SD it matters not what the people vote for, without this as part of our state constitution:

    Consent of the Governed Act:

    “Any initiated act or Constitutional Amendment passed by a direct vote of the people, shall not be nullified or altered or amended in any way by any means other to a direct vote of the people.”

  7. M 2021-09-07 05:41

    Interesting how the Republicans are more concerned with women’s right in Afghanistan then in the U.S. I’m surprised to see that the U.N. slammed Texas for the archaic law.

  8. cibvet 2021-09-07 08:22

    Comparing Texas lawmakers with the Taliban.

    One is authoritarian theocracy armed by US weapons manufacturers
    that violently persecutes women and children
    in the name of religion and the other is the Taliban.

  9. Edwin Arndt 2021-09-07 19:17

    One cannot remain silent. Why do some of you
    fight so hard for the right to kill a child?

  10. O 2021-09-07 21:31

    Edwin, I would say the most direct answer to your question is that your suggestion of when one becomes a child is not shared by all. I would also say that nobody here is in favor of killing children — again the salient point being when one becomes a child.

    The original Roe decision painted a line at viability. The new Texas law sets that point at six weeks. The Catholic Church would put that point at conception. The hard division is looking at what is, or looking at what could be.

    And none of that begins to even touch the surface of the special set of rights endowed to the unborn — rights that are not extended to any other person at any other point in life. None of that touches the stripping of rights from expectant mothers.

    My personal objection to this whole discussion is that it misses the point. Women do not have abortions because that choice exists. Women make that choice based on a raft of personal, economic, social, medical, safety, reasons that begin far ahead of that final determination. We as a society have failed when we create environments where we do not support EVERY pregnant woman in EVERY way possible. Instead of just focusing on the “choice,” let us instead focus on the WHOLE environment those choices are made in and work to create the most welcoming environment for all families — potential and actual. I wish my conservative friends would work harder to end abortion by creating a wholistic environment that encourages and supports ALL women to know they and their children will have all the support needed to live full, rich lives. Pro-life HAS to reach beyond the moment of delivery.

  11. O 2021-09-07 21:46

    I would also add that proper access to contraception and sex education are both also areas that would have TREMENDOUS effects on reducing abortion rates, but many of my conservative pro-life friends staunchly oppose both. Another example of that big picture discussion of the issue that continually gets ignored — or worse pushed in the wrong direction.

  12. cibvet 2021-09-07 23:23

    Pro lifers need more guns to continue killing the children in schools
    Pro lifers are against Medicaid in SD because it would save lives of poor people
    Pro lifers are mostly against covid vaccinations which saves lives.
    Pro lifers are mostly against masks because masks saves lives.
    Pro lifers are against school lunches for kids because why feed a hungry child. Its not mine.
    Pro lifers want a pregnancy carried to term and then f**k the kid.
    Pro lifers are the true definition of hypocrites.

  13. bearcreekbat 2021-09-08 01:18

    The term “pro-life” is somewhat of a misnomer when used by folks that seek to empower the government to make family planning decisions for individuals. Roe v. Wade held that the Bill of Rights as a whole significantly restricts the government from injecting itself into the private decision of whether to procreate. Most folks that think of themselves as “pro-life” are seeking to return power to the government to make general procreation choices instead of permitting individuals to make those decisions. But “pro-life” doesn’t do justice to the movement seeking to eliminate the constitutional right of privacy in procreation decisions. Since individuals would lose that private right to decide whether to reproduce, it does seem that “pro-government choice” is a more accurate description of the movement to overturn

    Recent history teaches that when a government is granted the power to make family planning choices, that power enables the government to do much more than merely restrict women from rejecting an unwanted pregnancy.

    Consider, for example, the Chinese government’s “one child” policy that lead to forced abortions.

    And in the good old USA consider the eugenic laws of the the early 20th century, as well as more recent efforts to prevent particular groups of women from reproducing to assure only the right people have children. For example, in Buck v. Bell, the SCOTUS upheld the State of Virginia’s power to order the involuntary sterization of a 17 year old child. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes infamously wrote: “three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

    Perhaps people that believe in the sanctity of life should reflect on what they ask for or they may end up, in effect, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

  14. mike from iowa 2021-09-08 07:46

    Edwin Arndt, like all of us, will die some day. No one is guaranteed to live a set number of days. Why do magats want to control women’s reproductive rights and then lie and say they are protecting women’s health? Abortions are safer than childbirth. That is a fact!

  15. cibvet 2021-09-08 08:31

    Noem’s ignorant way of governing is to create a fake crises and then pretend to solve it by mailing out flyers requesting money. Very fitting for the first 3 letters of conservative. Doing a con has always been a lucrative business, but pubs have taken it to a new level

  16. Lottie 2021-09-08 16:39

    I like Bette Midlers suggestion to this subject.

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