South Dakota’s Abortion Ballot Measure Is Even More Popular Than We Thought

A new poll shows support for Amendment G, which would establish a right to abortion in the first trimester in the state Constitution, has a 20-point lead over opposition.

South Dakota’s Abortion Ballot Measure Is Even More Popular Than We Thought

In May, abortion rights organizers in South Dakota submitted almost double the number of signatures required for their proposed measure to get on the ballot. By the end of the month—despite anti-abortion activists posing as government officials and harassing voters to revoke their signatures—South Dakota’s Republican secretary of state validated enough signatures, allowing the measure to get on the ballot this November.

And a new poll published Monday shows even stronger support for Amendment G than its 55,000 signatures would suggest. According to the South Dakota News Watch poll, 53% of surveyed voters support the measure, 35% oppose it, and 11% remain undecided (which… what’s there to decide??). This is a pretty significant shift from November when 46% of voters in the deep-red state said they supported Amendment G compared with 44% who opposed it.

The proposed measure would ensure abortion is legal under all circumstances in the first trimester of pregnancy and allow some regulation by the state after that point. Since 2022, South Dakota has maintained one of the strictest bans in the country. The state allows exceptions only to save the pregnant person’s life, without exceptions for other medical emergencies, fatal fetal anomalies, or rape. Abortion providers in violation are threatened with prison time.

In the immediate aftermath of the secretary of state’s office approving the measure, its anti-abortion opponents stated their intent to challenge it in court. Leslee Unruh, co-chair of the Life Defense Fund, recently said that the group “can’t wait to get to court”—a fairly unambiguous, eye-roll-inducing way of saying they’re going to do everything they can to drag this out and try to stop it.

Despite this, South Dakota abortion rights organizers sound optimistic. Dakotans for Health, the group leading the ballot effort, said their measure will “restore women’s personal freedom and overturn South Dakota’s blanket abortion ban,” and “[empower] individuals to make deeply personal decisions about their own bodies and futures.”

That the measure managed to get on the ballot at all remains a significant achievement in the state, especially considering Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is one of the most virulently anti-abortion politicians in the nation. In April, Noem said she opposed rape exceptions to abortion bans because she doesn’t “believe a tragedy should perpetuate another tragedy.” It’s an especially impressive feat considering the lengths anti-abortion activists have gone to, to try (and fail) to stop the measure. The latest polling is cause for even more hope that the state could become a beacon for abortion access in a region where post-Dobbs bans have decimated access to the health service.

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