PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A public hearing on restricting use of several types of abortion pills in South Dakota drew criticism Wednesday from a Planned Parenthood official.
Sarah Traxler said the proposed rule would be the strictest in the nation and called it “unconstitutional” and “unnecessary.” She is chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States region of South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Nebraska.
The South Dakota Department of Health offered the rule, after Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order on September 7 directing the department to begin emergency rulemaking.
The proposal would limit the use of two abortion drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, to the first nine weeks after conception, restrict their use to a licensed abortion facility, require they be prescribed and dispensed only by a licensed physician, and require the patient to make multiple trips to complete a medical abortion, including a follow-up 14 days afterward “to confirm that the fetus, placenta and membranes have been fully expelled.”
The hearing came one day after Noem appealed a U.S. District judge’s decision blocking a state law that would require pregnant women to see third-party abortion counselors.
No one testified in support at the Wednesday rule hearing.
Traxler, who participated by telephone, said telehealth abortions already were illegal in South Dakota.
She said Planned Parenthood has provided abortions for 27 years in South Dakota. Its clinic in Sioux Falls is believed to be the only site that regularly offers abortions in the state.
The South Dakota State Medical Association sent a letter about the rule proposal, according to a lawyer for the department. KELOLAND News has requested a copy.
The department will take mailed comments on the proposed rule until December 18, 2021.
The department reported a total of 125 abortions in South Dakota during 2020, with 39% by medical/non-surgical methods. That compared to a total of 414 during 2019, with 34% by medical/non-surgical methods. The overall reduction reflected a temporary closure of the Sioux Falls clinic because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South Dakota Legislature has passed many state laws that increasingly restricted abortion under at least five different governors. South Dakota voters twice rejected ballot measures that would have generally outlawed abortions in 2006 and 2008.
Governor Noem on December 1 tweeted her support for abortion-rights opponents as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson case on Mississippi’s abortion-restrictions law: “Sending prayers to the pro-life warriors who are fighting for the unborn. Please lift up these folks ahead of today’s Supreme Court challenge to overturn Roe v Wade.”