Staff members from the National Abortion Federation traveled to South Dakota this week to work with the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families (SDCHF) to campaign against Initiated Measure 11, which would ban abortion in the state with limited exceptions. This week our blog will feature their reports “from the field” about this closely watched ballot initiative.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time abortion opponents have tried to ban abortion in the state. In 2006, South Dakota passed a broad abortion ban, but SDCHF was able to collect enough signatures to defer implementation of the ban pending a statewide referendum. Voters in South Dakota defeated the ban by a margin of 55% to 44%.
Upon arriving in Rapid City, the first thing we noticed was the lack of skyscrapers. Being city girls, a lack of tall buildings and concrete was pretty shocking. However, the political signs that followed us to the campaign office made us feel far more at home than we anticipated.
We were greeted at the office by warm, friendly people whose kindness was trumped only by their dedication. They explained how difficult it already is for women in Rapid City to obtain abortion care because the city’s reproductive health clinic doesn’t provide abortions, and the closest clinic is located nearly 400 miles away in Sioux Falls.
Our first activity was to increase campaign visibility by joining a diverse group of campaign workers and volunteers holding signs against Initiated Measure 11 at one of Rapid City’s busiest intersections. We received many reactions from passers-by, including a large number of honks and waves from fellow supporters. Being active on the issue in public made us realize just how divisive abortion is in the state of South Dakota, and gave us new drive for our evening’s phone banking to educate voters and urge them to vote “no on 11.”