S.D. panel could limit medical abortions

Capitol News Bureau

Note to readers: This story has been updated to clarify and correct that the South Dakota Department of Health has two sets of proposed rules regarding abortion restrictions and that the meeting Monday is on the first set.

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee will decide Monday whether the state Department of Health can go forward with one set of proposed changes to abortion restrictions in South Dakota.

The committee meeting starts at 9 a.m. Monday.

The lawmakers will consider whether the department can proceed with various changes to the informed-consent form that a physician is required to provide to the pregnant mother.

State law already requires that the pregnant mother must sign, with date and time, each of the form’s nine pages.

Organizations that asked for adjustments or opposed the proposed rules included Sanford Health, American Civil Liberties Union-South Dakota, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Planned Parenthood North Central States.

The department also wants to limit the dispensing and use of medications mifepristone and misoprostol to only a licensed abortion facility and only within nine weeks of conception.

The public hearing on the medical-abortion proposal is set for December 8 at 11 a.m. CT.

The department also wants to require that the pregnant woman must be informed that the effects of the mifepristone medication may be reversible.

Another proposed rule would define a medical abortion as a procedure that uses medication to end a pregnancy.

The proposals followed a September 7, 2021, executive order from Governor Kristi Noem that said abortion providers now were able to send abortion pill mifepristone through the mail and that mifepristone presented a danger. The governor’s order directed the Department of Health to begin emergency rulemaking.

The order further said the governor anticipated working with legislators to adopt new laws in the 2022 session.

After pushback the department decided to go through the normal rule-making process for the medical-abortion restrictions rather than use the emergency provision.

It wasn’t clear when the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee would consider the medical-abortion proposal.

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