O.K., defenders of reproductive rights: after months of demonstrations in the streets of Sioux Falls and Rapid City, it’s time for some real, practical action to restore women’s equality in South Dakota.
Dakotans for Health is launching its campaign to codify Roe v. Wade in the South Dakota Constitution on Saturday, November 5. At 10 a.m. at the Icon Lounge, 402 North Main Street in Sioux Falls, Dakotans for Health will begin circulating its petition for a constitutional amendment to reëstablish the constitutional right to abortion that the Alito Court tossed the state-legislative wolves last June. Any registered South Dakota voter may sign this petition, the effect of which will be to place this constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot. Any adult South Dakotan can pick up copies of the petition and circulator handouts so they themselves can collect signatures to support this noble cause.
Sponsors of initiated amendments currently have one year—from November 5, 2022, to November 6, 2023—to collect 33,922 voter signatures to qualify their amendments for the 2024 ballot. The signature total will change based on voter turnout in this year’s general election—Article 23 Section 1 of the South Dakota Constitution requires signatures “equal in number to at least ten percent of the total votes cast for Governor in the last gubernatorial election.” The November 6 submission deadline could change if the Eighth Circuit sees the error of South Dakota’s initiative-suppressing ways (hear the October 19 arguments before the Eighth Circuit on that issue here!).
Dakotans for Health is taking no chances: the sponsors of the Roe amendment are planning to collect 60,000 signatures by July 1, 2023. That’s an ambitious schedule; if achieved, it would allow Dakotans for Health to complete its petition drive before any other potential initiative circulators hit the streets with their petitions, meaning D4H would not be competing with other campaigns for circulators and attention on the street.
Of course, Dakotans for Health may be competing with Representative Jon Hansen and other theocrats who are rallying their troops to come harass circulators on the street and shout away voters who want to put their signatures behind women’s rights. Saturday’s petition launch will be our first opportunity to see how hard the misogynists for Jesus will try to sabotage the petition drive. It will also be our first opportunity to see if the energy we’ve seen at the anti-Dobbs protests can translate into practical political action.