PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem said Thursday her administration will challenge a federal judge’s latest order blocking South Dakota’s new restrictions on medical abortions.
U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier issued the preliminary injunction Tuesday. The judge said Planned Parenthood argued that the additional rule requiring a third visit to the clinic for medical-abortion patients would eliminate access to medical abortion.
“On this point, the record indicates that Planned Parenthood would not be able to comply with the rule’s third appointment and 24 to 72 hour delay requirements based on physician availability,” the judge wrote. “This result would affect 100% of Planned Parenthood’s medication abortion patients. Medication abortion is safer for some patients than a procedural abortion. A medical abortion is medically indicated for some patients. And for those who are victims of domestic violence or rape, medication abortion is preferable. The alternative, procedural abortion, is more invasive — a fact that imposes an obstacle for patients who prefer the flexible timing and lesser degree of bodily invasion of a medical abortion.”
The judge also found that requiring the third visit put all medication abortion patients at greater risk of hemorrhage or other complications and would cause Planned Parenthood to end medical abortions at the Sioux Falls clinic. “Planned Parenthood is already scheduling abortions four weeks out. Abortions are safer and lower risk when performed earlier in gestation. Thus, the added risk associated with delayed services for all patients is a substantial obstacle for a large fraction of all patients,” she wrote.
Noem, answering a question from KELOLAND News, told reporters Thursday, “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.”
“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.”
Another reporter asked the governor why the state didn’t also restrict the use of the two drugs for treatment of miscarriages, where there also is the risk of bleeding. Noem said that patients in most of those situations “do have medical supervision. 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 at any all tied to the responsibility of what the consequences may be.”
A third reporter asked the governor whether the injunction means that women can now access telemedicine abortion pills in South Dakota. “I believe they can,” Noem said. “We’re appealing that decision. I’ll find out for sure. But I’m pretty certain they can.”