South Dakotans have rejected a law that would have banned virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.
The outcome was a blow to conservatives, although they prevailed in four other states where voters in yesterday's US elections approved constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage.
Among them was Wisconsin, where gay-rights activists had nursed hopes of engineering the first defeat of such a ban.
Five states passed increases in their minimum wage, while Arizona passed four measures targeting illegal immigrants, including one making English the state's official language. Nationwide, a total of 205 measures were on the ballots in 37 states, but none had been watched as closely by political activists across the country as the South Dakota abortion measure.
Passed overwhelmingly by the legislature earlier this year, it would have allowed abortions only to save a pregnant woman's life.
Had the ban been upheld, abortion-rights supporters would have launched a legal challenge that could have led all the way to the US Supreme Court.Reuse content