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South Dakota abortion numbers drop in 2014

PIERRE--The number of abortions in South Dakota was cut by 50 in 2014 compared to the year prior, according to statistics released by the South Dakota Department of Health.

PIERRE-The number of abortions in South Dakota was cut by 50 in 2014 compared to the year prior, according to statistics released by the South Dakota Department of Health.

There were 551 total abortions reported in 2014, compared to 601 in 2013.

Valerie Johnson, South Dakota Right to Life National delegate, said the 2014 figure is the lowest number of abortions reported in South Dakota history, with the highest being 1,693 reported in 1982.

"Someone said to me, 'You're excited because there's still that many abortions?' " said Johnson, of Mitchell. "And I told them 'No, no. It's the 50 who were not aborted and all of the people who chose life for their unborn kid.' There are going to be happy birthdays to celebrate."

South Dakota Right to Life is a nonprofit public service organization, with a primary purpose to educate through the presentation of information about fetal development, abortion, alternatives to abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and related issues. The organization intends to provide individuals and the general public with information upon which they can make informed decisions.

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"That's our main goal-education," Johnson said. "If you go to any fair you'll see a Right to Life booth, and you see big billboards on the roads. We do a lot of education and then we educate ourselves in how to educate other people. Education is the tool we use to accomplish our mission."

That mission, she said, is to create a universal standard in which abortion is "unthinkable."

Johnson credits improved technology and increased education to the drop in abortions, a trend that was consistent across the United States.

"Abortion numbers are lower than they have been in a long time, and I just think people are very smart, and I think it's going to keep falling," Johnson said. "At some point, it's going to be unthinkable and people will say, 'Wow, I can't believe that ever happened.' "

And while the 2014 numbers are encouraging, Johnson said, she hopes to see the number of abortions continue to drop in the coming years.

"Not everyone opposes abortion, and we know that," she said. "That's the reality and we're just going to keep educating and hope to make a difference."

To help, Johnson said the South Dakota Right to Life organization, which has 12 regions in the state and an unstaffed, but usable, office based in Pierre, is working to replace and improve the organization's billboards along roadsides.

Johnson has been the national delegate for South Dakota Right to Life since 2010, and the dropping number of abortions in the state holds a special significance to her.

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"You work so hard and you're not getting paid, but they payoff is so huge, it doesn't even make any difference," Johnson said, "because the benefits are so great to society."

Attempts to reach the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Pro-Choice South Dakota were unsuccessful on Friday.

Related Topics: ABORTION
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