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South Dakota House committee votes 10-1 for bill intended to safeguard women undergoing chemical abortions

by | Feb 23, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

South Dakota’s House Health and Human Services Committee voted 10-1 last night to pass HB 1318A which would codify the governor’s executive order from September requiring women undergoing chemical abortions to obtain the abortion drugs in person. The measure now goes to House floor.

Gov. Kristi Noem’s “rule was set to go into effect last month after passing through the Interim Rules Review Committee, but was blocked by federal judge Karen Schreier shortly after Planned Parenthood, South Dakota’s only abortion-care provider, filed their lawsuit against Noem,” according to Nicole Ki  of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

Schreier, a Bill Clinton appointee, granted a preliminary injunction, agreeing with Planned Parenthood that the rule “likely imposes an undue burden on Planned Parenthood and its patients’ right to seek an abortion.” She fully accepted Planned Parenthood’s argument that the additional rule requiring a third visit would effectively eliminate chemical abortions.

Noem has appealed her order to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

South Dakota Right to Life testified in favor of HB 1813.

“The abortion industry has no apparent problem putting women in harm’s way as they recklessly continue to distribute chemical or pharmaceutical pills meant to abort a unique, separate living human being,” said Dale Bartscher, Executive Director of South Dakota Right to Life. “Something must be done to ensure that women won’t be left alone; there must be accountability to protect their lives.”

The Supreme Court has heard two abortion related cases this term. In the interim, Mark Miller, Noem’s General Counsel and Interim Chief of Staff, said the state “needs to continue to bolster laws with new laws, like HB 1318, ” according to Ki.

“Planned Parenthood wants to allow an out-of-state doctor to prescribe the chemical abortion drugs via phone or computer, not in person,” Miller said. “That won’t work here in South Dakota; we’re going to make it a felony to try it.”

Typically, mifepristone, the first of the two-drug chemical abortion technique, is given to the woman in person at the clinic. She takes the second drug, misoprostol, at home where she ingests it in the next day or two.

The bill requires that women first have an initial consult “and then two more visits for the administration of the two abortion drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, which are taken up to 48 hours apart,” Bridget Sielicki explained. “This not only prohibits women from receiving these dangerous drugs through the mail, but it is also a change from the former procedure, in which women would take the first pill in the doctor’s office but complete the abortion with the second pill later, on their own at home.”

The deaths of at least twenty six women have been linked to the drug and at least 4,000 “adverse events.”

On February 10, Noem answered reporters’ question, observing that Judge Schreier focused on access to abortion rather than women’s safety, the reason for the rule.

“It was interesting to hear her argument. It was more about making it an abortion issue, which clearly in this telemedicine abortion order that we put forward, it’s about women’s health. It is four times more likely a woman will end up in the emergency room from utilizing and accessing abortion through this manner,” according to Bob Mercer of KELOLAND News.

“And,” Noem continued, “that is why we put it forward is to protect women’s health and make sure that they are medically supervised. The federal judge chose to make it about something else, and that’s disappointing. We will appeal.”

Gov. Noem continued, “In the instance of telemedicine abortions, someone can make a phone call, get online, order the drugs to be sent to their home. There is no medical supervision. That’s what makes it so dangerous. And that kind of access opens it up to our young women to be in their bathrooms or locker rooms alone undergoing this procedure with no doctor or physician … tied to the responsibility of what the consequences may be.”

Categories: State Legislation