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South Dakota group claims enough signatures to block abortion ban, force ballot

[JURIST] A group that opposes South Dakota's abortion ban [text, PDF] announced Tuesday that it has gathered more than enough signatures to prevent the July 1 enactment of the law and place it on the ballot in November. The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families [advocacy website and press release] said its volunteers had gathered more than 37,000 signatures and planned to present them to the office of South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson [official profile] on Tuesday afternoon. If at least 16,728 signatures are deemed valid, voters will decide whether the ban should become law. Gov. Mike Rounds [official website] signed the bill [JURIST report] in March, and within weeks the advocacy group said it would try to put the issue before voters [JURIST report] under the referendum provision of the state constitution [text]. A statute [text] requires the signatures of 5 percent of the state's qualified voters to trigger a referendum.

The law, which abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists alike view as a direct challenge to the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade [opinion text] and subsequent cases, bans all abortions except those necessary to save the pregnant woman's life. A physician convicted of performing an illegal abortion could be fined $5,000 and sentenced to five years in prison. Reuters has more. From Sioux Falls, the Argus Leader has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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