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Senate committee advances Noem’s abortion restriction bill, blocks Haugaard’s

Senators on the Health and Human Services committee blocked a bill restricting abortion from State Rep. Steve Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls), and advanced another from Governor Kristi Noem.
(Gray)
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 12:49 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - State Senators on the Health and Human Services committee advanced a bill from Governor Noem’s office that would codify a ban on telemedicine abortion. However, a similar abortion bill was ultimately blocked just hours later.

By a vote of 6 to 1, lawmakers on the committee agreed to advance HB 1318, Noem’s bill, to the full Senate floor.

If signed into law, that bill would make it a class 6 felony for medical providers to give telemedicine abortions in South Dakota.

“This bill is in the best interests of mothers, and when it comes to restrictions on abortion, this is really only one aspect,” said State Sen. Wayne Steinhauer (R-Hartford).

Some lawmakers on the committee expressed concern about advancing the bill, given that it could impede on the doctor-patient relationship.

“It causes me concern when we dictate how medicine is practiced... I remain concerned about the state’s willingness to insert itself in the healthcare industry,” said State Sen. Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls). Curd ultimately voted in favor of the bill.

Noem’s bill was originally scheduled to be heard last by the committee but was put at the top of the committee’s agenda just prior to the start of their meeting.

That made HB 1208, brought by State Rep. Steve Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls), the last bill that was heard by the committee. Haugaard’s bill went a step farther than Noem’s, in that it banned the medicines used for “chemical abortions,” which would also have applied to telemedicine abortions.

Critics of Haugaard’s bill suggested that it was too broad, even after an amendment by Haugaard was brought to make it less broad. In testimony, opponents pointed to the fact that miscarriages are often referred to as a “spontaneous abortion” in the medical community, meaning that Haugaard’s bill could affect women going through miscarriages.

However, Haugaard disagreed with the assessment that the bill was too broad, and the language in his bill accounted for concerns of opponents.

“I would point out the fact the term “abortion” is defined in that statute as the intentional termination of a life in the womb. When we talk about using these drugs to remove a deceased life, that is not made illegal by this bill,” Haugaard said during his rebuttal.

However, the bill was ultimately “sent to the 41st day” by a vote of 7 to 0, killing it.

Some committee members pointed to crossover between the two bills as a reason not to advance Haugaard’s.

“We just passed about two hours ago a similar bill, not the exact same but a similar bill,” said State Sen. Jim Bolin (R-Canton). “I feel like there is a lot of crossover there.”

“This bill passed the House with strong support,” Haugaard said afterward. “It’s a sad day when the Senate Republicans reject the protection of unborn children from chemical abortion.”

Noem’s bill will likely be heard on the Senate floor before the end of the legislative week.

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