Disagreements over whether or not to drastically expand South
Dakotans access to abortion boiled over in the House State Affairs
Committee Wednesday morning.
The Republican dominated committee had asked Dakotans for Health
co-founder Rick Weiland to testify on House Concurrent Resolution 6008,
which would express the Legislature’s disapproval of a ballot measure
sponsored by Weiland’s group.
Should South Dakota voters pass that proposed constitutional amendment
into law come November, it would allow unfettered access to abortion
during a woman’s first trimester, with restrictions by the state allowed
later on in the pregnancy, with exceptions for the life and health of
“I’m here before you with 50,000 signatures of South Dakota citizens who
believe the Legislature has badly overreached,” Weiland testified,
making reference to the state’s “trigger law” which effectively bans
abortion outright. “It overreached by banning a woman from choosing to
terminate a pregnancy if she is raped…”
But the Sioux Falls man found himself in hostile territory, opposite of
a nearly all Republican committee that includes amongst its membership
Rep. Jon Hansen, leading the grassroots effort to block the ballot
Hansen and House Majority Leader Will Mortenson grilled Weiland over
concerns that his ballot initiative would repeal existing laws related
to basic health and safety measures for women and children. The most
pertinent of such exchanges occurred when Weiland weaved through
questions about whether or not parental notification would be allowed in
the first trimester under the new law – requiring people under eighteen
seeking abortion to get parental consent.
“This measure is very harmful to mothers and unborn babies,” Hansen
explained. “It is the abortion activists who have one solution, to
terminate the life of a mother’s precious baby to make a profit.”
The initiative advanced out of the committee on a party line vote.