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House committee advances Noem’s telemedicine abortion ban

Planned Parenthood and ACLU of South Dakota are asking the court system to block a new state...
(Dakota News Now)
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 9:19 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota State House Health and Human Services committee advanced a bill by a vote of 9 to 1 Tuesday that would codify Gov. Kristi Noem’s ban on telemedicine abortions.

HB 1318 would “prohibit medical abortion by telemedicine,” and “increase the penalty for the unlicensed practice of medicine when performing a medical abortion,” to a Class 6 felony.

Several conservative organizations, such as the Family Heritage Alliance and Susan B. Anthony List, testified in favor of the bill.

Proponents argued in part that the practice is unsafe, due to the fact that a doctor is not directly on hand for the practice.

”This is not going to deny an abortion, it is going to deny one method. If a person did end up going through the route of an abortion, it would just be a different route than the telemedicine,” said State Rep. Carl Perry (R-Aberdeen). “That is why I am going to support it.”

The bill passed with an amendment by State Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-Florence), which Noem’s Chief of Staff Mark Miller said was an unnecessary amendment, due to duplicative language that they argued was already accounted for in the bill, and in state code.

The South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) testified against the bill.

“HB 1318 represents dangerous political interference and violates patients’ rights to liberty, privacy and equal protection as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution by imposing significant burdens on abortion access without proof of a valid medical justification,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “We will continue to challenge efforts contrary to our right to make our own medical care decisions.”

Noem has sought out several opportunities to restrict access to telemedicine abortions over the course of the last several months. Noem currently faces a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood because of her efforts to restrict access to medication abortion drugs. That rule would require patients to have to wait a minimum of 24 hours before they can receive the second of two medications necessary for a medication abortion, ultimately requiring those seeking abortions to visit providers three separate times.

The bill will have to be heard on the House floor prior to close of business Wednesday, otherwise it will be considered dead because that’s the deadline for bills to leave their house of origin.

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