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Abortion opponents energized in key U.S. state
Cat : Democracy & H-Rights
Date : 2006-10-12 17:56:21                      Reader : 305
constitutional law since 1400 years prohibited abortion with the exception of a mother that risk death . We sacrifice the baby to save the mother . We hope UN will adopt such a law to protect human life particularly in the West where population is decreasing seriously .


REUTERS 12/10/2006

Abortion opponents energized in key U.S. state


By Carey Gillam
SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (Reuters) - Kim Shemon crooks an elbow around her four-month-old daughter and keeps a wary eye on her four-year-old son as she puts a donation on the table and picks up a "Vote Yes for Life" sign for her yard.

The busy mother is part of a surge of support for South Dakota's new ban on abortion, rallying to defend the law in a referendum on November 7.

"I'm just very passionate about the right to life" Shemon said. "I've adopted both my kids. I'm thankful their birth mom chose life."

Widely seen as the most restrictive abortion law in the United States, the South Dakota law has shaken abortion rights groups and emboldened their opponents, making this wind-blown farm state ground zero in the U.S. war over abortion.

Signed by Gov. Mike Rounds on March 6, the law bans abortions at all stages of pregnancy, including cases of rape and incest, and offers no exception if a mother is in poor health.

A range of national abortion rights organizations helped conduct a successful petition over the summer to force a referendum on the law onto the ballot of U.S. midterm elections.

But opponents of abortion still see sparsely populated South Dakota as their best route to overthrowing Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 33 years ago.

"We're really working and we're focusing," said Leslee Unruh, who is leading the campaign to uphold South Dakota's ban. "We're going to have a big party on November 7. Victory is soon."

Unruh's camp this month is holding "bucks for babies" fundraisers, a Rock for Life concert for college students and is distributing yard signs, T-shirts, and bumper stickers that declare "The Killing Stops Here."

State-wide television ads started last week and Catholic leaders have weighed in, calling for God to send "holy angels" to protect the abortion ban.

Across town from the Vote Yes for Life campaign, in a storefront along Sioux Falls' Main Street, supporters of abortion rights at the Campaign for Healthy Families are running an equally committed but more subdued campaign.

Unlike the high-profile anti-abortion activities, the abortion rights campaign is focusing on reaching voters door-to-door and by telephone.

It has released two television spots and stages regular press conferences, but is forgoing traditional campaign materials such as yard signs and bumper stickers in favor of house parties and speeches to business groups.

Volunteer Liam McNerney, 36, who makes evening campaign calls to potential voters, said that while he opposes abortion, he supports a woman's right to choose abortion.

He said he is angry that the state could become trapped in a costly court case if the ban is upheld and abortion rights supporters seek court action to block the law as they have pledged to do.

"I don't feel the law really provides any protection for women in South Dakota and I don't think South Dakota should be stuck with the eventual cost of defending it in court," McNerney said.

Jan Nicolay, co-chair of the group says the mission is to make people understand what the law means.

"The only time you can even discuss an abortion is when a woman is dying. We can't let this happen," she said.

If a woman is dying, the law says a doctor may perform an abortion but must try to save the life of the fetus as well as the woman.


Polls show South Dakota voters nearly evenly divided on whether or not to overturn the abortion ban, with less than 20 percent undecided.

To help sway voters, religious leaders on both sides have been speaking out, quoting the Bible and invoking the teachings of Jesus.

The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls has printed prayer cards for a "yes" vote supporting the ban and given parishioners a 24-page booklet telling them why to vote that way. The diocese has also issued a "Prayer to affirm House Bill 1215" that asks God to send holy angels to protect those fighting to uphold the abortion ban.

Along with the Catholic Church, evangelist Jerry Falwell, pastor of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, has called on his followers to send contributions to South Dakota to help "win this historic battle" by upholding the ban.

A group of moderate religious leaders calling themselves "Pastors for Moral Choices" has taken the opposite stance and launched its own ads opposing the abortion ban.

"The ban is neither just nor compassionate and as people of faith we take note that the Bible and Jesus don't address abortion," said Rev. Kathy Timpany, assistant pastor of First Congregational Church in Sioux Falls.

Neither side will disclose how much money they've raised to date. The law's opponents took an early lead on donations, with thousands contributed from around the country.

But in these late last few weeks before the vote, fundraising is becoming more difficult as key U.S. Senate and House races attract donor dollars, according to Sarah Stoesz, CEO of Planned Parenthood operations in South Dakota, which opposes the ban.

That fact, combined with the flurry of activity and energy seen on the other side is worrisome to Stoesz.

"They've been ramping up with great intensity and have been raising apparently quite a lot of money," Stoesz said. "We still think it is winnable, but there is no doubt this is going to be a very tough battle."

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