PIERRE, S.D.(SDBA) – South Dakotans could get their first look at leading proponents and opponents going face-to-face on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would make abortion legal.
House Majority Leader Will Mortenson sent a letter to Dakotans for Health Founder Rick Weiland, asking him to attend a House State Affairs Committee hearing next week on House Concurrent Resolution 6008, which would express the Legislature’s opposition to the ballot initiative Weiland is circulating petitions for. So far, that resolution has support from nearly every Republican across both chambers.
Should voters approve the amendment in November, it would effectively make abortion legal in South Dakota through all three trimesters – with elevating restrictions later on in the pregnancy.
“The measure would affect generations of South Dakotans and would repeal dozens of sections of code containing health and safety protections for mothers, medical providers, and children,” Mortenson wrote to Weiland. “It has been described as one of the most extreme in the nation.”
Weiland told South Dakota Broadcasters Association that he is currently undecided about whether or not he will attend the committee – either in-person or remotely.
However, not all House State Affairs Committee members are happy about the prospect of the committee forum becoming a debate hall. House Assistant Minority Leader Erin Healy called the effort “unprecedented.”
“During my time in the legislature, I can’t think of another instance when we have invited sponsors of a citizen-led measure to testify,” Healy said. “This seems to be playing into party politics.”
Should Weiland show up – he’ll face questions from Rep. Jon Hansen, a member of the House State Affairs Committee and the leader of a movement to block the initiative from getting on the November ballot.
“Weiland knows this is too extreme for South Dakota, and has spent the last year misleading voters about his amendment,” Hansen said. “If he decides to attend this hearing he’ll have a lot to answer for.”
HCR 6008 is slated for debate Wednesday morning, February 7th in the House State Affairs Committee.