South Dakota voters rejected a tough ban on abortion that aimed ultimately to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision nullifying state laws restricting abortion.

The South Dakota measure, passed overwhelmingly by the legislature, barred abortion even in cases of rape and incest. It would have allowed abortions only to save a pregnant woman’s life.

If voters had approved the measure, it likely would have prompted a legal challenge leading to the Supreme Court.

Approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor last winter, the law immediately was challenged by Planned Parenthood, the abortion industry’s largest operator nationwide with $272 million in income from taxpayers this year and the sole provider of abortions in the state.

Pro-abortion forces planned an $8 million flood of campaign ads to convince residents to reject the ban.

Democratic South Dakota congresswoman Stephanie Herseth, a prominent abortion supporter, opposed the new law because it “forces one narrow set of opinions on others,” and she feared “red states” like South Dakota would not continue to allow abortions if the Supreme Court ruling, Roe vs. Wade, were overturned.

South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, the group seeking to strike down the ban on abortions, ran a TV ad calling for people to “honor and protect human life, reduce the number of abortions.” But it also said the ban “just goes too far.”

Lawmakers in the plains state did their homework before approving the law, researching and attaching to the legislation a 72-page report with interviews from dozens of life experts, documentation of medical technology, the effects of abortion on America and vast resources of other information.

At least a dozen states prepared to launch similar abortion bans have been waiting for the outcome of the South Dakota vote.

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