The leaders of the ballot question committee formed to oppose the effort to put abortion rights to a vote in South Dakota in 2024 are vowing to wage war against petition circulators.
Representative Jon Hansen (R-25/Dell Rapids), anti-abortion activist Leslee Unruh, and Republican donor Steven Perkins formed “Life Defense Fund” last month to campaign against the initiated amendment proposed by Dakotans for Health to write Roe v. Wade into South Dakota’s constitution. Now Hansen writes in the South Dakota Right to Life Fall 2022 newsletter that his group will put blockers on the street to stop circulators from collecting signatures from voters to place this measure on the ballot:
Through the Life Defense Fund, we will oppose this deadly constitutional amendment at every step. Beginning this November, we must stand next to their petition circulators, explain to the public how radical this amendment is, and encourage our fellow citizens not to sign the petition. We must tell the truth to people rather than leave them to sort through the lies of the liberal press and misleading ad campaigns for themselves [Rep. Jon Hansen, “South Dakota Pro-Abortion Ballot Measure Alert,” South Dakota Right to Life Fall 2022 newsletter, retrieved 2022.09.14, p. 4].
Lawyer Hansen vows this sidewalk war will also extend to the courtroom:
We must hold the pro-abortion groups accountable and sue them when they break our campaign finance and petition circulation laws. We must match their campaign with such a massive effort that these liberal groups will think twice before ever proposing to legalize the killing of these precious lives ever again [Hansen, Fall 2022].
Hansen, who has regularly worked on the campaign trail, in the Legislature, and in the courts to stifle women’s rights and ballot initiatives, can now scratch both itches in this campaign against the proposed codification of Roe v. Wade. It’s not enough for Hansen to take command of women’s bodies and demand that they serve him and the state with forced pregnancy; he must also take to the streets to stand in the way of South Dakotans exercising their right to call a vote on this important issue. Both times that abortion has been on the ballot (2006 and 2008), South Dakota voters have rejected Hansen’s big-government control of pregnancy. This summer’s Mason-Dixon poll revealed strong majorities of South Dakota voters support legal access to abortion and want to vote on abortion access themselves on the statewide ballot. But since women and democracy scare Hansen, he wants to thwart the mere effort to allow South Dakota women and other voters to make their voices heard.
Hansen is also afraid of out-of-state liberals and wants everyone else to fear them as well. He bleats his typical South Dakota xenophobia to milk his fellow cons for money:
Right now, these pro-abortion groups are already recruiting people to gather the signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot. They wiIl be well funded with millions of dollars flowing in from big, out of state, liberal special interest groups. One such group—The “Fairness” Project—whose stated goal is to put abortion into red state’s constitutions, has already poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into political campaigns in our state.
…If we have a chance at stopping this constitutional amendment from passing, we need to fund a large campaign war chest. To be blunt: we can’t rely on the promise of some rich out-of-state donor to come fund our resis- tance. The obligation to defend life is now on us [Hansen, Fall 2022].
Note that Hansen has to watch his words about the Fairness Project and the proposed abortion initiative: while the Fairness Project is supporting the hospitals’ Amendment D to expand Medicaid, and while the Fairness Project did spend six figures to help defeat Hansen’s plot to hamstring the Medicaid expansion campaign with Amendment C last June, the Fairness Project appears to be focused on 2022 abortion ballot measures in other states and hasn’t said public word one about South Dakota’s possible 2024 abortion vote. (The next campaign finance statements are due October 24: we can look then to see who all may be putting money into Dakotans for Health, Hansen’s Life Defense Fund, and anyone else who may be campaigning for or against a vote on abortion rights.)
Petition-blocking has happened before in South Dakota. When Steve Hildebrand and Steve Hickey launched their initiative petition to cap payday loan rates at 36%, predatory payday lenders hired out-of-state thugs to intimidate Hildebrand and sabotage the petition drive. Hansen’s Republican friends ran interference for that out-of-state interference in our democratic process and had connections to the payday lender players who tried killing the 36% rate cap petition in court. But that interference failed spectacularly: Hildebrand and Hickey’s petition drive collected plenty of signatures, and their Initiated Measure 21 passed with 75.58% of the November 2016 vote.
The plain fact is that Jon Hansen doesn’t want women to have a say on their bodies, and he doesn’t want voters to have a say on abortion policy. Watch for him and his goons to hit the streets and the courts to try shouting down women’s voices and voters’ voices.