Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order banning the delivery of abortion drugs through telemedicine and mail-order pharmacies.
His executive order, signed Tuesday, directed the South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) to create new anti-abortion rules. The rules prohibit out-of-state telemedicine from prescribing abortion-inducing drugs. They also prohibit the delivery of these drugs on state or school grounds, including post offices.
The order would bring DOH rules into line with an already-passed state law requiring abortion seekers to meet in person with a state-licensed physician in order to receive abortion-inducing drugs.
His executive order may anticipate an upcoming Food and Drug Administration decision to authorize the distribution of abortion drugs by mail or in virtual pharmacies nationwide, Seattle weather reported.
His ordinance also requires clinics that prescribe abortive drugs to obtain a state license. Medical providers must report any health complications resulting from drug-induced abortions, the order also said.
Noem issued the order days after asking his office’s chief legal counsel, Mark Miller, to review the state’s abortion laws, according to the Time. She would have liked Miller to consider whether the laws could mimic or go further than Texas’ recently passed six-week abortion ban.
The new Texas law allows private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion. These accomplices can include any healthcare worker, driver or funder who helps a pregnant person to have an abortion. Any private citizen who successfully sues is then entitled to at least a $10,000 reward from the person sued.
About 39% of abortions in South Dakota in 2020 took place with medication, the DOH reported. Abortion advocates said the abortion drugs make the procedure more accessible to rural residents who are several miles from a nearby abortion clinic.
“It’s disappointing that Governor Noem continues to insert herself into the patient-doctor relationship,” said Janna Farley, director of communications for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. Time. “To have an abortion is a private medical decision, which is protected by the US Constitution…It is clear that the attacks on our abortion rights do not stop in South Dakota.”
Noem said she issued the order to protect women’s health because abortion drugs can be life-threatening. However, only 24 of about 3.7 million women taking the abortion drug mifepristone died, according to an FDA study published in April 2019.
In other words, the overall mortality rate associated with medical abortion nationwide is 0.65 deaths per 100,000 medical abortions. By comparison, the national pregnancy-related mortality rate is 18 deaths per 100,000 live births.
As such, giving birth is almost 28 times more deadly than having a medical abortion. The potential for death in a live birth is higher for black women and those who have already given birth to a child, the FDA study added.
Noem would like state lawmakers to turn his order into law within the next year. She accused Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration of trying to make telemedicine abortions more accessible nationwide.
“It’s not going to happen in South Dakota,” Noem said in a statement.
Newsweek contacted Noem’s office for comment.