SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Two years after South Dakotans rejected a nearly total ban on abortion, the early count in Tuesday's election showed a less restrictive ballot measure also failing.
With about one-third of the precincts reporting, Initiated Measure 11 was losing with 55 percent of the votes against it.
If passed, the measure would likely send a legal challenge of Roe v. Wade to the U.S. Supreme Court, so the issue is being watched closely nationally.
This year's ballot measure was less restrictive than the 2006 measure, which was rejected by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.
The new version would outlaw abortions but included exceptions for rape, incest and pregnancies that threaten the life or health of the woman. Some voters said they wanted those exceptions when they rejected the 2006 measure.
Opponents of Initiated Measure 11 said it would jeopardize the patient-doctor relationship because physicians could be criminally charged for exceeding its bounds.
Supporters said the focus is on preventing abortions in South Dakota, and doctors abiding by standard medical practices would have nothing to fear.
South Dakota Right To Life had urged voters to reject Initiated Measure 11. The group supported the 2006 measure but not the latest one because the exceptions were added.
Jon Schafer, 42, of Sioux Falls voted for Measure 11.
"I'm a little more comfortable with it now," he said of the exceptions.
Inez Grenz, 64, of Eureka said she did, as well.
"It will save 97 percent of all abortions and eventually Roe v. Wade could be overturned," she said.
But Jon Gonzales, 30, of Sioux Falls voted against the ban.
"I believe in choice. It's a no-win thing. They're just kicking at a dead horse," he said of the second attempt.
Ron Kjellsen, 72, of Watertown said he voted against it but with mixed emotions.
"I would say I'm very torn about it. I don't think there should be abortions, one side of me is saying. The other side of me is saying, why should a 72-year-old man be making a decision for a 16-, 17- , 18-year-old girl who got in trouble?"
According to the state Health Department, 748 abortions were performed in 2006, the last year for which records are available.