South Dakota Legislature Makes Bad Abortion Bill… Worse.


South Dakota has passed a “tweaked” version of an anti-choice bill that was approved last session, which is currently in the midst of a court challenge. The 72-hour waiting period enacted by this bill–which constitutes the longest waiting period in the nation–was not modified, however, so women will still need to take three days or more off of work for their abortion at the state’s only abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood Sioux Falls

The original law was placed under injunction in June 2011.  Besides the 72-hour waiting period, it also includes a requirement that women mandatorily obtain counseling at a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC).  Judge Karen Schreier, who granted the injunction, stated in her ruling that: “Forcing a woman to divulge to a stranger at a pregnancy help center the fact that she has chosen to undergo an abortion humiliates and degrades her as a human being.”

“The woman will feel degraded by the compulsive nature of the Pregnancy Help Center Requirements, which suggest that she has made the ‘wrong’ decision, has not really ‘thought’ about her decision to undergo an abortion, or is ‘not intelligent enough’ to make the decision with the advice of a physician.” 

The newly passed HB 1254 does not remove the CPC provision, but now requires that counselors at CPC’s be licensed. The bill also requires that physicians speak to women about their religious beliefs. The following is from a Naral Pro-Choice South Dakota press release, provided by Executive Director, Alisha Sedor:

“This legislation is as much an affront to women’s right to choose as its egregious predecessor,” Sedor said. “Furthermore, these changes impose even more unprecedented hurdles on women seeking medical care and create new concerns about constitutionality.

HB 1254 would also expand the enjoined 2011 law to include new biased-counseling mandates on providers, requiring physicians to probe women about deeply personal topics, including their religious beliefs.

All individuals seeking health-care services should receive comprehensive, unbiased, medically and factually accurate information from the healthcare provider of their choice,” said Sedor, “However, this legislation is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate, shame, and coerce women against accessing safe, legal abortion.“

It looks like the South Dakota legislature has built upon its last unconstitutional, litigated piece of anti-choice legislation and in its infinite wisdom passed an even more egregious piece of anti-choice legislation, continuing its record of wasting taxpayer time, energy and resources on one solitary medical clinic within its 77,121 square miles. Meanwhile, the nation’s top three poorest counties are located within that state. This stands as another tragic example of misplaced priorities in GOP dominated state legislatures.   

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