PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Opponents of legalized abortion gathered at the South Dakota Capitol on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe decision, as well as the Dobbs decision that overturned it last summer.
Keynote speaker was National Right to Life president Carol Tobias. “This is a very exciting time for the pro-life movement,” she told the crowd that filled the rotunda.
The Dobbs decision released by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, triggered a state law that outlawed nearly all abortions in South Dakota. The one exception is for the life of the mother.
Tobias noted that South Dakota was one of 13 states where trigger laws took effect.
There were 192 abortions in South Dakota in 2021, according to the state Department of Health. The department’s report for 2020 showed 125. There were 414 in 2019 and 382 in 2018.
There is one piece of abortion legislation so far in the 2023 session. HB-1169 would clarify the conditions when a mother’s life is at sake. Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt and Republican Sen. Erin Tobin are prime sponsors.
The bill-filing deadline is Monday.
A non-binding resolution, SCR-602, expresses the Legislature’s support for the Dobbs decision. State senators voted 30-3 for it Thursday along Republican-Democrat lines. Republican Sen. Jim Bolin and Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch, a past head of South Dakota Right to Life, are prime sponsors.
South Dakota voters might face a constitutional amendment in 2024. The group Dakotans For Health is circulating a petition that seeks to restore the pre-Dobbs abortion rights in the state. To get on the ballot, signatures from at least 10% of South Dakota registered voters are needed, based on the 350,166 votes cast for governor in the 2022 election.
South Dakota voters twice rejected attempts in 2006 and in 2008 to outlaw most abortions.
Lieutenant Gov. Larry Rhoden told the crowd Sunday that Governor Kristi Noem has legislation that would require both parents pay for the cost of a pregnancy. Republican Sen. David Wheeler and Republican Rep. Mike Stevens are prime sponsors of SB-75.
Noem had been listed as an “invited” speaker on the Sunday program but Rhoden appeared instead. Rhoden also spoke of her efforts to expand paid family leave for state government employees and offering state support up to $25,000 for domestic adoptions.
Noem and state Attorney General Marty Jackley last week issued a letter to South Dakota pharmacists reminding them that abortion pills are illegal in the state. The letter came in response to a federal FDA decision to allow broader access to abortion pills through the mail.
“This clearly goes against our pro-life values and cannot be tolerated in South Dakota,” Rhoden said.
Republican Rep. Jon Hansen urged the crowd to “decline to sign this radical abortion petition” that’s circulating for the proposed pro-choice constitutional amendment. Hansen, vice president for South Dakota Right to Life, said it’s possible to keep the measure off the ballot if there aren’t enough signatures.
“Amen?” Hansen asked.
“AMEN,” the audience responded.