House candidates debate abortion, and other topics, on USD Campus

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Republican Rapid City businessman Chris Lien said Tuesday that he will vote for the state ballot measure that would ban most abortions. Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said she is against the measure.

The two candidates for the state’s lone U.S. House seat made those distinctions in a debate on South Dakota Public Television.

Lien said abortion issues should be left to the discretion of states, not the federal government. Adding that he staunchly opposes abortion, Lien said the ballot measure contains precautions that some feel are proper, including exceptions in instances of rape, to prevent serious health problems and to save a woman’s life.

Herseth Sandlin said the proposal is ambiguous and should be rejected because it will interfere with women’s private decisions, adding that the government should not meddle in medicine.

“It’s an unwarranted intrusion into a very private decision that should be made by families and their doctors, with the counsel of their pastors, their ministers, others that are close to them,” she said.

The congresswoman, who is pregnant and expecting her first child in late December, noted that the State Medical Association opposes the proposed abortion ban. She said the issue was settled by voters in 2006 and should not have been brought back to the ballot again.
Lien, who is making his first bid for public office, said South Dakotans have the right to reconsider the issue. Abortion on demand should not be allowed, he said.

“If you have abortion with no consequences, it’ll lead to more abortions,” Lien said.
The debate was sponsored by the South Dakota Newspaper Association and AARP South Dakota.

Fielding questions sent to SDPB, the two candidates also covered such issues as the $700 billion federal credit bailout and congressional earmarks.

Herseth Sandlin and Lien both decried the bailout and said tougher oversight must be exercised over the financial sector.

Herseth Sandlin says Bush administration officials saw the crisis coming but waited too long to deal with it, adding that unregulated financial instruments “got out of control.”

Lien said regulations on the financial sector must be proper to ensure that such an economic crisis doesn’t occur again. He called the credit crisis “abysmal.”

The candidates disagreed on congressional earmarks, which are special project funds attached to larger legislation.

Lien said projects worth their salt should be able to stand in independent legislation. That would help hold down congressional spending, he said.

Herseth Sandlin said earmarks are important to states like South Dakota because of its low population. Administration officials often overlook important projects in rural states, and Congress uses earmarks to ensure funding for those state priorities, she said.

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