Noem’s abortion pill limit heads to South Dakota Senate

PIERRE, SD (AP) — Republican senators from South Dakota on Monday advanced a proposal from Governor Kristi Noem that aims to make the state one of the toughest places to get abortion pills, though its enactment real depends on a decision of the federal court.

Every Republican on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted to push the bill forward for a full house vote, even though a GOP lawmaker warned the Legislature against getting involved in the practice of Medicine. The only Democrat on the committee opposed it.

Shortly after the decision to advance the bill to the Senate where a vote has not yet been scheduled, the same committee unanimously rejected a separate proposal, presented by Noem’s main Republican challenger, Rep. Steve Haugaard, to completely ban the use of drugs for abortions. .

The Supreme Court’s willingness to consider overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 ruling that established the nation’s right to abortion — prompted a flurry of state house laws this year.

South Dakota politicians have taken aim at abortion pills after the Food and Drug Administration last year removed a major hurdle for women seeking the pills by eliminating a longstanding requirement that they must pick up the drugs by person.

Noem’s bill would require women seeking an abortion to make three separate visits to a doctor in order to take abortion pills. South Dakota women currently have to go to an abortion clinic for an initial screening and then wait 72 hours before returning. On the second visit, they receive both drugs in the two-dose schedule and take the second dose at home.

But so far, more restrictions on the pills, which are used for about 40% of abortions in the state, have been vetted — either by federal courts or by concerns from the Republican-controlled legislature that a total ban would affect health care beyond abortions.

When Noem tried to implement a similar restriction through a state rule last year, Planned Parenthood, which operates the only clinic in the state that routinely provides abortion services, sued. ‘State. He argued that the rule was an unconstitutional violation of abortion rights and would have made it virtually impossible for the clinic to provide medical abortions.

Last month, a federal judge halted the enactment of that rule, but Noem appealed the decision.

Meanwhile, his administration has pushed the bill forward, but with a clause that says most of them won’t go into effect unless the court battle is resolved in favor of the state. The bill also seeks to increase the penalty for any doctor who prescribes abortion pills beyond what is permitted by law to a felony punishable by two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.

The Senate vote is the final hurdle Noem’s proposal faces in the Legislative Assembly.

She argued that she introduced the bill out of concern for women’s safety.

“What we’ve seen is that these drugs could be accessed over the phone or the Internet between a stranger and someone who wants an abortion,” the governor said at a news conference last week.

Last year, the FDA found that scientific review supported expanding access and removing the requirement that they be picked up in person.

Some Republican lawmakers have also cautioned politicians entering the realm of drafting specific drug laws, even if they favor restrictions on abortion access.

“This bill has put us in a dilemma,” Republican Sen. Blake Curd said before voting to move it forward.

“It worries me when we dictate how medicine is practiced and enshrine it in law,” added Curd, who is also a surgeon.

Meanwhile, the potential medical implications of Haugaard’s bill proved too significant for Curd and other members of the Senate committee. The state medical association and doctors have raised concerns that it would limit medication for other procedures like treating miscarriages.

Haugaard presented the bill as centered on “the idea that life matters at every stage of pregnancy”, and added language stating that it would only apply to abortions.

The senators were not convinced.

“I’m not saying it’s OK for abortion to oppose this bill,” said Republican Senator Erin Tobin, a nurse practitioner. “But what I’m saying is that these are very complex medical decisions and women have a right to receive health care.”

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