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SDSU Poll: South Dakotans Oppose Current Abortion Ban, Might Support Restoring First-Trimester Access

South Dakota’s near-total abortion ban would fail if put to a statewide vote.

Such is the indication of the SDSU Poll, which asked 565 registered voters about abortion policy.

Professor David Wiltse’s poll indicates South Dakotans still aren’t very sanguine about respecting women’s bodily autonomy. Only 46% of respondents support women’s right to abort their pregnancies in the first trimester. 43% oppose such liberty. With a 4% margin of error, a proposal to allow women untrammeled first-trimester choice (like the constitutional amendment for which Dakotans for Health will start collecting petition signatures next month) would be a statistical toss-up.

David Wiltse, "South Dakotans' Opinions on the Access to Abortion," SDSU Poll, 2022.10.12.
David Wiltse, “South Dakotans’ Opinions on the Access to Abortion,” SDSU Poll, 2022.10.12.

But South Dakota’s current ban, which has no exceptions for rape or incest, would fail miserably in a statewide referendum. The SDSU Poll finds 74% of respondents want victims of rape or incest to be able to choose to terminate pregnancies caused by their attackers.

David Wiltse, "South Dakotans' Opinions on the Access to Abortion," SDSU Poll, 2022.10.12.
Wiltse, 2022.10.12.

The SDSU Poll indicates some confusion on the part of Republican voters. 48% of Wiltse’s Republican respondents said abortion should always be illegal and only 38% opposed that idea. But 65% of those same Republicans say abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, and 75% of the Republicans said the abortion ban should have exceptions to protect the health of the pregnant woman.

Wiltse, 2022.10.12.
Wiltse, 2022.10.12.

Democrats appear to think and speak more consistently about abortion rights. 88% oppose a total ban on abortion. 82% support first-trimester abortion access and 96% support exceptions for rape, incest, or health of pregnant women.

Wiltse, 2022.10.12.
Wiltse, 2022.10.12.

The SDSU Poll thus supports what is apparent from comparing current Republican mealy-mouthedness to the actual policies they pass when they get the chance: if you want reliable protection of women’s rights in South Dakota, you have to put Democrats in charge.

And even if women’s rights are in a precarious situation in South Dakota, the SDSU Poll sends a strong signal that South Dakota’s current abortion ban is out of step with the preferences of most South Dakota voters.


  1. sx123 2022-10-13 07:59

    Should conduct a poll with women, separated into groups of under 45 and over 45 yrs of age, and also broken down by party.
    I think that would be most interesting.

  2. P. Aitch 2022-10-13 09:55

    When you live surrounded by white people you need to group up to define your identity. Supporting the Roman Catholic demands is a way many define themselves. No matter and no deep thought necessary. Once defined SD voters can practice “safe politics” by only glancing at political ads and feeling informed, despite willful ignorance to the issues.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-10-13 18:09

    sx123, the SDSU Poll does break down the results by sex, but Dr. Wiltse does not provide finer crosstabs of women by party and by age. He might need a larger sample to get reliable results along those lines.

    Notably, Dr. Wiltse says his results show South Dakota women and men aren’t far apart on abortion policy:

    Our results also show that about 51% of women agree that abortion should be legal in the first trimester, while 42% are opposed. For men, these numbers were 45% and 42%, respectively. This difference is largely accounted for by more men being neutral on the matter. There is no meaningful gender gap when it comes to the right to abortion in case of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. Overall, the results show that the attitudes of men and women in South Dakota toward abortion are not too far apart [Wiltse, 2022.10.12].

    Hmm… have most of the women committed to their own autonomy and equality moved to the Twin Cities?

  4. Kurt Evans 2022-10-19 21:46

    “mike from iowa” writes:

    Texas woman nearly died from miscarriage because doctor’s hands were tied by draconian abortion laws. Maybe Evans would be so considerate as to console this lady.

    Amanda nearly died because she and Josh waited too long to seek medical attention after she developed sepsis, but I’d be glad to try to console them if I thought that was what they wanted.

Comments are closed.