Navigating Conflict: Planned Parenthood's Strategy in South Dakota


Navigating Conflict: Planned Parenthood's Strategy in South Dakota

Published Date







The South Dakota legislature and governor enacted in 2006 the nation's strictest restrictions on the right to choose abortion. In the past, the pro-choice movement turned to the courts. In South Dakota, Planned Parenthood under the direction of its regional director, Sarah Stoesz, adopted an electoral strategy of putting the issue on the 2006 ballot where it was defeated. Does the electoral strategy offer pro-choice advocates a promising new option as courts have become more conservative? Or, as some pro-choice advocates contend, does it cede too much ground and open the door to more conservative initiatives? Are there broader implications of the South Dakota electoral strategy for bridging divisive issues? The meaning and significance of the South Dakota battle over abortion was discussed by Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota; and Steve Sviggum, Commissioner of Industry and Labor and long time pro-life advocate.Lori Sturdevant with the Star Tribune moderated. Sarah Stoesz has been president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota since June 2001. Her career has included time in senior management at Allina Health Syste, serving on the staff of US Senator Paul Wellston, and as assistant commissioner for Research and Public Affairs at the Minnesota Department of Jobs and Training during the administration of Governor Rudy Perpich. She began her professional life as an organizer with Local 17 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union in Minneapolis. A veteran of many political campaigns, Sarah also worked as a political analyst for Minnesota Public Radio and TPT (channel 2); and was an adjunct faculty member at Metropolitan State University where she taught both Women in Politics and U.S. Public Policy. Sarah holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from The Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, where she also earned a B.A. She recently ended a 6-year rotation on the board of directors for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, where she served as board Chair. She currently sits on the Board of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis; is on the Advisory Board of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota's Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs; and the Advisory Board of Wellstone Action, and is active in many other community activities. Steve Sviggum is commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Prior to his appointment as commissioner, Sviggum was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives for 15 terms. He served four terms as Speaker of the House and three terms as House Minority Leader. Sviggum is also teaching a class at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Lori Sturdevant is a veteran Capitol journalist for the Star Tribune. She writes about state politics and government. Her column appears in Sunday's OpEd section, and occasionally at midweek.

Related to



Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Jacobs, Lawrence R.. (2007). Navigating Conflict: Planned Parenthood's Strategy in South Dakota. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.