SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this past June, one Sioux Falls mother felt called to act in defense of abortion access.
Michele Brace and Tiffany Campbell are working together to organize a Women’s Wave rally in downtown Sioux Falls this Saturday. It’s a part of a nationwide push for action by the Women’s March.
“October 8 was going to be a National Day of Action and I looked around to see if anybody was coordinating this and tried desperately to find someone to organize. And it was just one of those things of, ‘If not me, then who?’” Brace said.
Brace said that after Roe fell, she felt that change should begin at the community level and so she began making t-shirts through an online shop in hopes of encouraging conversations about abortion.
Co-organizer Tiffany Campbell has been a vocal proponent of abortion access in South Dakota since 2006 when she first shared her abortion story. Together, the pair is hoping to provide attendees with the opportunity to learn about actions they can take to protect access to reproductive health care in South Dakota.
“The bigger issue is that when they overturned Roe, an enormous part of the population, you know, half of the population suddenly had less rights than the rest,” Brace said. “This only applies to people who can get pregnant… It’s bigger than whether or not you want to have a baby or carry a baby. It’s really just about whether you can make decisions about your own medical care.”
Some Democrats have expressed concern that now that abortion is illegal, other forms of care and reproductive decisions such as IVF, miscarriage management and surrogacy could be impacted.
While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have wondered whether the current trigger ban could impact miscarriage management, Governor Kristi Noem’s office told KELOLAND News following the fall of Roe that the ban would not impact miscarriage treatment.
While Brace said she is past the point of having kids and won’t be directly impacted by the overturning of Roe, her 17-year-old daughter will be.
“I don’t think it’s fair for our future generations to basically go back in time,” Brace said. “And some of the things that are happening specifically in South Dakota are very alarming. The trigger law with no exceptions is barbaric and cruel. It’s inhumane. And that is kind of what is motivating me.”
Both current lawmakers and legislative candidates have expressed a desire to clarify the trigger ban to make that language clearer. In a KELOLAND News survey sent to legislative candidates in South Dakota, the majority said if elected they would like to clarify the trigger ban’s language or add exceptions for rape and incest.
With the trigger ban in place, abortion is expected to be a big topic in the state legislature in 2023 with anti-abortion advocates preparing to look beyond abortion to keep South Dakota “pro-life and pro-family” as Jon Hansen told KELOLAND News this summer.
Despite the state’s strict abortion ban, South Dakota voters have not voted in the past to uphold stricter laws on abortion. In 2006 and 2008, abortion bans failed at the ballot box and a South Dakota News Watch poll found that the majority of South Dakotans thought the current ban was too restrictive.
Brace is hoping this weekend’s event will mobilize people to take action but also just start the conversation on abortion with friends and family because this issue “affects everyone” who wants control over their medical decisions, Brace added.
“Abortion has been one of those issues that it’s not polite to talk about. And I hope that the rally shows the different implications, the different people that have been affected,” Brace said.
The event will feature abortion rights advocates, community leaders, politicians and Brace’s own daughter.
“She’s 17 and not able to vote. So, this is kind of her way of, of helping really, she can’t get to the polls,” Brace said. “And I think when she talks, she’ll probably say that, ‘If you have no other reason to vote, please vote for me. Because I, I can’t.’”
The rally will take place at Fawick Park in Sioux Falls on October 8 from 12 to 2 p.m.