SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While still legal in the state, abortion has stopped in South Dakota.
The Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls remains open for services, but an official with the organization confirmed to KELOLAND News it has paused scheduling abortion appointments while awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on the case Dobbs vs. Jackson. In May, a leaked Supreme Court opinion draft showed the court plans to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Sioux Falls was the only clinic where abortions were still being performed by Minnesota physicians who traveled to Sioux Falls and would follow the state’s required rules and waiting periods.
KELOLAND News reached out to Republican Governor Kristi Noem and her challengers for the November election – state lawmaker Jamie Smith, the Democratic Party candidate, and Tracey Quint, the Libertarian Party candidate – about Planned Parenthood’s decision to stop scheduling abortion appointments in the state.
Noem’s spokesman Ian Fury declined an interview request and pointed to a tweet published on Thursday morning.
“We have prayed for this day, and now it is here,” the tweet says. “Now, we must redouble our focus on taking care of mothers in crisis. Help is available for you. Adoption is an option. You are never alone.”
When asked about what’s next for abortion in South Dakota, Fury said “the 2nd part of the tweet is quite specifically about what’s next.”
Smith told KELOLAND News abortions happened before Roe vs. Wade and abortions will continue to happen if Roe vs. Wade is overturned.
“I believe it’s our job to make sure they’re done safely in the state,” Smith said. “I can’t make decisions for why Planned Parenthood is doing what they’re doing. I know that in South Dakota it is still legal and that is the law that I would intend to uphold here in the state of South Dakota.”
Smith acknowledged South Dakota has a trigger law which makes abortion automatically illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court gives jurisdiction to state governments. He noted the trigger law bans abortions with an exception to protect the life of the mother.
“That excludes rape and incest, which South Dakotans don’t agree with,” Smith said. “Twice they voted on this topic. And twice, they’ve said those restrictions should not be in place.”
Smith was referencing ballot measure votes held in 2006 and 2008. In November 2006, 334,593 South Dakotans voted 55-44 against Referred Law 6. In 2008, Initiated Measure 11, was a revised version of the same law from the 2006 vote and that vote also fell 55-44 with 206,535 voting no and 167,560 voting yes.
When asked about a possible citizen-led initiative campaign to codify a right to an abortion, Fury declined to answer and Smith said the issue is on many people’s radar.
“Every time I speak it’s a question that gets asked about my stance on this,” Smith said. “I think abortion should be rare but legal and in doing so people seem to understand where I’m at and where my stance is. I think I fall in line with the majority of South Dakotans.”
In 2020, the South Dakota Department of Health reported there were 125 total abortions performed in South Dakota with 106 of those being performed on South Dakota residents.
Noem tweeted South Dakota needs to “redouble our focus on taking care of mothers in crisis.”
Smith said the state should “look at all stages of life in order to be pro-life.”
“What you need to do is look at funding for childcare. You need to look at funding for child nutrition,” Smith said. “We need to look at funding for adoption and foster care. We need to make sure that our kids, once they are born, have every opportunity that they can have.”
Quint told KELOLAND News she doesn’t believe the government should be making medical decisions for individuals.
“These decisions should be made between an individual and their doctor,” Quint said in an emailed statement. “I’m afraid that discontinuing to provide what may be medically necessary procedures may put the lives of women at risk. “