South Dakota Governor and Fellow Republicans Target Abortion Pills

Governor Kristi Noem’s proposal to make South Dakota one of the toughest places in the country to get abortion pills won support from Republicans in the State House on Tuesday, even though a federal judge blocked a similar rule to enter into force therein.

Every Republican on the South Dakota House Health and Human Services Committee voted to advance the bill for a vote in the full chamber this week. The bill would require women wishing to have an abortion to make three separate visits to a doctor in order to take abortion pills. South Dakota women can currently get both drugs in the two-dose schedule in one visit and take the second dose at home.

Noem isn’t the only South Dakota politician to take aim at abortion pills. His main Republican challenger, State Rep. Steve Haugaard, is pushing a proposal to completely ban the administration of abortion drugs. His bill passed the GOP-controlled state House on Tuesday and will next be considered by the state Senate.

But both proposals would face uphill battles in federal court.

A federal judge this month granted a preliminary injunction against a rule to restrict abortion pills that Noem initiated through an executive order. Planned Parenthood, which operates the only clinic in the state that regularly provides abortion services, sued the state, arguing the rule was an unconstitutional violation of abortion rights that would have made it virtually impossible for the clinic to provide medical abortions.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, who was appointed under former President Bill Clinton, wrote in her order that the rule “likely places an undue burden on Planned Parenthood and its patients’ right to abortion.” Noem appealed Schreier’s order to a higher court.

The governor’s office has acknowledged that most of its current proposal is stalled in federal court; a clause in the bill states that most of them will not come into force until the legal battle is resolved.

The Supreme Court’s willingness to consider overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that established the nation’s right to abortion — has prompted a flurry of state house laws this year.

Noem argued that she proposed the bill out of concern for the safety of women.

“In the case of telemedicine abortions, someone can make a phone call, log in, order the medication to be sent to their home, and there’s no medical oversight,” she said. at a press conference this month.

Last year, after scientific review supported expanding access to the pills, the US Food and Drug Administration lifted the requirement that people seeking abortions pick up the drugs in person.

The agency found that drug-related complications were rare. About 40% of abortions in the United States are performed by drugs rather than surgery, and the FDA has reported only 26 drug-associated deaths since 2000 – although not all of them can be directly attributed to the drug due to the existing health of the patients. conditions and other factors.

“For South Dakota, putting these barriers in front of women means they believe they are smarter than the FDA,” Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood North Central States, told The Associated Press this month. this.

Representative Haugaard, Noem’s main rival, also pushed the House to propose a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would define a fertilized egg as a living human being. That proposal was defeated by a one-vote margin in the GOP-controlled House on Tuesday after other Republicans said it would add a potentially burdensome definition to the state constitution.

“Roe vs. Wade is on the ropes and hopefully on its way out,” Haugaard said.

Stoesz asked why Republican lawmakers were aggressively attacking abortion rights when the U.S. Supreme Court could potentially strike down Roe in a ruling this year. South Dakota is one of twelve states where abortion ban laws will be triggered if judges overturn Roe.

“What the legislature is doing right now strikes me as purely political posturing,” Stoesz said. “But ultimately, the lives of real people are affected.”

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