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.
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.
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.
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.
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.