South Dakota may soon join Utah as one of the states where a woman seeking an abortion must wait at least three days between her first contact with a provider and the actual procedure. Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota has announced that it will be dropping the waiting period portion of its challenge of H.B. 1217/H.B. 1254, the 72 hour wait and mandatory crisis pregnancy center visit abortion bill passed in 2011.
The state, which already has only one clinic, will now require all women to meet face-to- face with a doctor in the clinic, then return at least 72 hours later before she undergoes the actual abortion. Previously, although the state already had a 24-hour wait, the information that would be provided did not need to occur in person, meaning the woman would not have to make two separate trips to the clinic.
According to the Associated Press, President of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota Sarah Stoez has said the organization would drop this portion of the challenge of the law in order to focus more resources on fighting the mandatory crisis pregnancy center visit portion of the law.
Sources familiar with the lawsuit told RH Reality Check that Planned Parenthood has asked that the 72-hour wait portion of the challenge be dropped without prejudice, meaning that the organization would reserve the right to resume challenge at a later time. Supporters of the legislation say that the waiting period is an integral part of the anti-coercion aspect of the bill, and argue that if the group wants to drop that portion of the challenge they should not be allowed to leave it open-ended or be able to re-litigate it later.
Alisha Sedor, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, said her organization supports Planned Parenthood’s decision to focus on the mandatory crisis pregnancy center requirement in the bill.
“The fight for reproductive rights and access to comprehensive reproductive health care continues to be arduous in South Dakota,” Sedor said via email statement. “NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota stands with Planned Parenthood in their decision to focus their litigation on the extremely egregious requirement that women visit an anti-choice ‘crisis pregnancy center’ prior to receiving abortion care—even if it is against her will.”
“All individuals seeking health-care services should receive comprehensive, unbiased, medically and factually accurate information from the healthcare provider of their choice,” added Sedor. “This law is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate, shame, and coerce women against accessing safe, legal abortion. We will support the lawsuits of our coalition partners and continue to battle similar legislation in Pierre.”