For over a year, the pro-abortion group Dakotans for Health has been misleading the public in order to fill a petition with 55,000 signatures that would put a radical constitutional amendment on South Dakota’s ballot in November. The measure would allow abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy. This week, the far-Left group submitted the requisite signatures to see their measure on the ballot, but now the legality of the signatures is rightfully being questioned. Life Defense Fund is filing a lawsuit against Dakotans for Health, challenging the signature validity.

Background on the Amendment:

The proposed constitutional amendment is radically anti-life and specifies that in the first trimester, no safety measures could be established by the legislature – no protections for the mother, no health standards, no requirement to tell parents if their 14-year-old daughter is undergoing an abortion – no safety standards whatsoever.

In the second trimester, the amendment would allow the legislature to “regulate” abortion, but only pertaining to the mother’s health – no legal measures could protect the life of the baby.

The amendment only gets worse from there.

In the third trimester, the language appears to allow the protection of unborn life, but when you look closer, there’s a massive loophole: an abortion is legally justified any time a doctor believes an abortion is needed to “protect the mother’s health.” Here’s the kicker: that decision is made by an abortionist. Thus, all an abortionist needs to do is claim their patient faces a potential health risk by continuing to carry the baby, and he can legally provide an abortion with no repercussions, and no oversight.

Background on Dakotans for Health:

Dakotans for Health, co-founded by Rick Weiland, came under fire multiple times in 2023 for his shady petition practices, and was even sent a warning letter from the Attorney General. You can read that letter here. In it, the Attorney General admonished Weiland and his organization for the alleged offenses, and specified three major complaints: volunteers leaving petitions unattended, petition signatories being encouraged to sign more than once, and petition circulators providing misleading information and failing to distribute the required circulator handout. All three of these evidenced complaints represent serious violations to South Dakota petition law and make the petition turned in by Dakotans for Health illegitimate.

Jon Hansen and Leslee Unruh, Co-Chairs of Life Defense Fund, explained:

“Despite clear warnings from the Attorney General, thousands of signatures were collected by Rick Weiland’s organization in violation of South Dakota law. If you signed this petition, did they tell you the Abortion Amendment would legalize late-term abortion after the baby is viable outside the womb and up to birth? Did they tell you the Abortion Amendment endangers women by banning safety standards for most abortions? Did they tell you the Abortion Amendment takes away parents’ right to know when their minor daughter is seeking an abortion?

In response to the unlawful and misleading actions of Rick Weiland and his paid petition circulators, Life Defense Fund will challenge the legitimacy of the Abortion Amendment petition in court.”

Last year, Life Defense Fund published video evidence and personal testimonies that petitioners were lying to signatories, telling them that they would be signing a “food tax bill,” when in reality they were signing the abortion petition. Petitioners were also caught using terms like “pro-life” and “pro-family” to support their radical abortion amendment. Providing inaccurate or misleading evidence is a direct violation of SD 2-1-1.1, as the Attorney General noted in his letter.

Dakotans for Health may have submitted 55,000 signatures, but how many of those are duplicates, or from people who didn’t understand what they were signing? Their petition has yet to be certified and will undergo an automatic random review of signatures before it appears on the ballot in November. At least 37,000 of the 55,000 signatures must be accurate to gain certification. Even if the petition is ultimately certified, it does not negate the illegal measures used to obtain many of the signatures, and Dakotans for Health must be held accountable for that. Family Voice fully supports Life Defense Fund’s efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the abortion amendment petition in court.