SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the Supreme Court deliberates Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, states across the country are preparing for the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Over the past few months, state legislatures have passed a variety of abortion restrictions in anticipation of the Dobbs decision. On Thursday, a federal judge blocked a 15-week abortion ban that included reporting requirements from clinics in the state. Kentucky’s two abortion providers said they would not be able to comply with the new reporting guidelines and the ban would have effectively eliminated access to abortion in the state.
This comes just one week after Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law that would make providing an abortion a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem and Planned Parenthood are currently entangled in a lawsuit that would further restrict access to abortion in the state. The ban, which was signed into law during the 2022 legislative session, would require patients seeking a chemical abortion to visit South Dakota’s only abortion provider in Sioux Falls three times to obtain the medication needed to complete the procedure.
Current South Dakota law requires mifepristone, the first drug in the regimen, to be administered by a licensed physician during a second visit after a 72-hour waiting period following informed consent from the patient. The law, which can’t take effect until litigation is resolved in court, would require a patient to make a third visit to receive misoprostol, the second drug in the regimen, which is currently provided to patients at the second visit.
Libby Skarin with the American Civil liberties Union (ACLU) says things will get ‘much worse’ for abortion access if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. In an email to KELOLAND News, Skarin said that access to abortion in the Upper Plains region is historically challenging.
“Both North Dakota and South Dakota, for example, have only one clinic in each state,” Skarin said. “This is undeniably due to the extreme regulations in place that politicians have passed year after year with no regard for the rights or well-being of pregnant people.”
In the Upper Plains, abortion access ranges from accessible in Montana and Colorado to severely restricted in Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Factors such as insurance restrictions, waiting periods, and the number of providers were factored into how accessible care was for patients seeking an abortion.
South Dakota has what is known as a ‘trigger law‘ which would immediately ban abortion in the state in the case of Roe being overturned “…unless there is appropriate and reasonable medical judgment that performance of an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female.” The act of abortion in any other circumstance would be classified as a Class 6 felony.
During the 2022 legislative session, several bills were brought forward by Representative Steven Haugaard in the case that the Court rules to restrict abortion access. One bill would have banned the medication used for abortion in South Dakota and the other would have allowed voters to determine whether life begins at conception. Both bills failed in committee.
South Dakota Right to Life executive director, Dale Bartscher, says the organization would be pleased if the Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“America is on the brink of what may be a watershed moment in our pro-life movement with a forthcoming ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs v. Jackson decision that will hopefully pave the way to affirming the rights of pre-born children,” Bartscher said in an email to KELOLAND News.
While the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade is exciting, Bartscher said that the work would continue both at the legislative level as well as throughout the rest of the state.
“Pro-life supporters and the press need to understand that such a ruling returns the abortion issue to the duly elected representatives in state legislatures,” Bartscher said. “Unfortunately, abortions will continue to be available across the country in many places and there is much work left to do here in South Dakota and beyond. It is SDRTL’s Mission to see abortion as both illegal and unthinkable in the state of South Dakota and beyond.”
That sentiment is something that Skarin, and the ACLU, are trying to prevent.
“We have seen abortion rights chipped away at for years and years and we have seen the burden that has put on pregnant people,” Skarin said. We also know that South Dakotans have twice voted to keep abortion legal in our state. We know that most people believe that reproductive decisions should not be made by the government.”
Bartscher pointed to a study from Marist Poll that shows 25% of respondents supuported abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, 28% supported abortion in cases of rape or incest, and 11% supported abortion to save the life of the mother.
The decision from the Supreme Court is expected to come sometime this summer.