South Dakota Strengthens Informed Consent Law

By Dave Andrusko

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard

A bill that would modify and strengthen South Dakota’s 2011 informed consent law arrives this week on Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s desk.

The measure passed the State Senate Thursday 24-9 after passage in the House last week.

Currently, under HB 1217, there is a three-day waiting period after a woman meets with an abortionist. The proposed law would clarify that weekends and holidays would not count in calculating the 72-hour waiting period.

Under existing law, the pregnant woman is also to consult with a pregnancy help center in the interim.

Rep. Jon Hansen, the main sponsor of the measure to extend the waiting period, told the Senate State Affairs Committee Wednesday “that the law needs to be changed to make sure women have time to consult with pregnancy help centers,” the Associated Press reported.

State Sen. Phyllis Heineman “said the measure will make sure women can get counseling without being rushed,” the AP reported. “Otherwise, the abortion clinic could have a woman meet with a doctor on Friday and schedule her abortion for Monday, meaning she would have to visit a pregnancy help center on Saturday or Sunday, when counselors might not be available, the Sioux Falls Republican said.”

“South Dakota Right to Life strongly supports HB 1237,” said Valerie Johnson, education coordinator. “In giving pregnant mothers more time to consider all of the information provided by the state and all of the alternatives to abortion, we protect South Dakotans from biased counseling and misinformation from abortion providers. South Dakota recognizes the good work of Pregnancy Help Centers, and we believe that pregnant mothers are more likely to use those resources available to them with the proposed changes to the wait period.”

Last December, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota dropped its appeal of the three-day waiting period. According to Planned Parenthood, the three-day waiting period will be enforced in the next several weeks.

In dropping its fight against the 72-hour proviso, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota said it would focus on fighting the counseling provision. Legal challenges have prevented that  part of the law from going into effect.