"The women are coming forward. They're feeling like there's hope," said Leslee Unruh, president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse and a key homestate player in the approval of the law, which was signed last month by South Dakota Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican.
Before approving the law, which bans abortion, except to save the life of the mother, a state task force on abortion took testimony and collected nearly 2,000 statements from women nationwide, 99 percent of whom said their abortions caused them pain, emotional damage and health problems and shouldn't be legal.
Many say their side of the story has been ignored in the broader abortion debate until recently.
"It's not a popular voice ... but it's one that needs to get out," said Karen Bodle, of Harrisburg, Pa., whose story was among those submitted to South Dakota. Mrs. Bodle had an abortion at age 18 and for years afterward, she said she "suffered from chronic depression, feelings of shame and worthlessness" as well as miscarriages and troubled pregnancies.
"I was in denial over the truth of abortion for over 20 years," said Mrs. Bodle, who feels she was "lied to and deceived" when she was told that the fetus wasn't a baby and that the abortion would allow her to fully live her life.
"I believe that information still is denied to women," she said.
The women who support banning abortion say they know not all women share their negative experiences. But Cynthia Collins, who had her first abortion as a 19-year-old and then took a "downward spiral," said the nation has "only heard one side" of the debate.
"We were sold a bill of goods that abortion is a good thing, and when we find out that it's not, we're told to be quiet," said the Louisiana resident, who also told her story to the task force. That mentality is finally starting to change, she said, and "as those voices are heard, then we're going to see the true picture."