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Abortion ban fails in South Dakota

Published November 8, 2006


South Dakotans rejected a toughest-in-the-nation law that would have banned virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest - defeating one of the most high-profile state measures facing voters Tuesday.

The outcome was a blow to conservatives, although they prevailed in five other states where voters approved constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. Among them was Wisconsin, where gay-rights activists had nursed hopes of engineering the first defeat of such a ban.

Five states - Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Ohio and Nevada - approved increases to their minimum wage, with results on a similar measure pending in a Colorado. Arizona passed four measures targeting illegal immigrants, including one making English the state's official language.

Nationwide, a total of 205 measures were on the ballots in 37 states, but none riveted political activists across the country like the South Dakota abortion measure. Passed overwhelmingly by the legislature earlier this year, it would have allowed abortion only to save a pregnant woman's life.

Lawmakers had hoped the ban would be challenged in court, provoking litigation that might lead to a U.S. Supreme Court reversal of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Eight states had ban-gay-marriage amendments on their ballots; Idaho, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia joined Wisconsin in approving them, while results were pending in Arizona, Colorado and South Dakota. Similar amendments have passed previously in all 20 states to consider them.

In Missouri, a proposed amendment allowing stem cell research was a factor in the crucial Senate race there; incumbent Republican Jim Talent opposed the measure, while Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill supported it.

Missouri - along with Arizona, South Dakota and California - had an increase in tobacco taxes on its ballot.

In California alone, big tobacco companies spent more than $56-million fighting a tax increase that would boost the average price of a pack of cigarettes to $6.55.

In Ohio, antismoking activists won a showdown with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. Voters approved a tough ban on smoking in public places and rejected a rival, Reynolds-backed measure that would have exempted bars, bowling alleys and racetracks.

[Last modified November 8, 2006, 03:10:35]

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