SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — From anger and fear to jubilation and prayer, advocates on both sides of the abortion fight in South Dakota are reacting strongly to the United States Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade in a landmark decision.
“Well, of course, this is a momentous decision. And if I could throw confetti, I would. I’m more than grateful,” Dale Bartscher, Executive Director of South Dakota Right to Life said.
Since it was founded, South Dakota Right to Life has helped pass 54 anti-abortion laws in the South Dakota legislature and today’s decision will not stop them in their mission to “protect innocent human life from conception to natural death.”
“And we’re going to continue our mission, because there will always be mothers and fathers who have an unplanned pregnancy that they’re struggling with, that we need to help and come alongside of,” Bartscher said. “And, of course, we’re concerned about, about the elderly, we’re concerned about the vulnerable individuals in our society.”
On the other side of the fight, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is less enthusiastic about today’s decision.
“When I went to bed last night, I had more rights than I had as of 9:30 a.m. this morning,” Skarin said. “That is something that is so rare, that is so unprecedented, that is so damaging and harmful, that all we have left is to keep fighting, right?”
The decision from the Court means that abortion is now illegal in South Dakota due to a trigger law that exceptions for rape or incest, only if the life of the pregnant person is at risk. Skarin is worried about what that law means not only in South Dakota but all over.
“This decision will allow extremists across the country to ban abortion and force women and others who can become pregnant into a second-class status by denying them control over their bodies and their futures,” Skarin said.
Skarin also worries about what this decision means for other rights based on Justice Clarence Thomas’ comments in the opinion where he cited Lawrence v. Texas, Obergefell v. Hodges, and Griswold v. Connection, which deal with same-sex intimacy, same-sex marriage, and the right to contraception respectively.
“So, while we’re talking about abortion today, I think that we have to anticipate that they are going to come after these other rights as well,” Skarin said. “We are truly at a crisis point.”
Following the decision Friday, Governor Kristi Noem launched a website to provide information to pregnant people on financial assistance, adoption, and other state-sponsored resources. That included crisis pregnancy centers like the Alpha Center.
The founder of the Alpha Center, Leslee Unruh, says the court ruling means they’ll be providing even more women with pregnancy services.
“We’ve just tripled our clients overnight. And we’re there and we’re ready, we’ve got a lot of good support and a lot of people that want to reach out and help more women,” Unruh said.
Unruh says the Alpha Center has already been expanding its operation in anticipation of the court ruling by adding a mobile unit that can travel to communities across the state.
“We are not going to leave anybody out there alone. People will be able to help them,” Unruh said.
Unruh says the Alpha Center has added more than $100,000 in additional security in response to the potential for backlash against the Supreme Court’s decision.
Planned Parenthood held a press conference Friday to discuss the court’s ruling.
“The Supreme Court has taken an absolute knife to Roe and our protections, the protections that we have relied on, that so many of us, including myself, have used to organize and plan our lives for the 50 years,” Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said.
Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls says they will remain open and will continue to provide health care and contraceptives. Abortions will still take place at clinics in Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. Clinics in those states have been preparing for the influx of patients.
“We have increased capacity at our telemedicine abortion sites. We are continuing to recruit and onboard new physicians in Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota in order to meet more demand,” said Sarah Traxler, Chief Medical Officer Planned Parenthood NC States.
Traxler added that she is worried as a doctor about how this decision will impact the health and well-being of patients.
“As a physician, it’s very difficult to see medical decisions made by legislators,” Traxler said.
The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls says the U.S. Supreme Court made the correct decision overturning Roe v. Wade because abortion is a moral wrong according to Church teaching.
“There really is justice for everyone in this case in the sense of every soul is protected and given that opportunity for the right to life,” Bishop Donald DeGrood of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls said.
Bishop Donald DeGrood says his diocese will provide social outreach to families facing the financial and emotional uncertainties of this post-Roe v. Wade landscape.
“My hope is that we, not only within the church, outside the church, organizations, government, everybody can rally together to say what can we do to support, especially women, right? This is a heavy burden, especially for some women, some dads,” DeGrood said.