House Committee passes bill that would protect mother from prosecution in event of abortion

Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a bill aimed at protecting a woman who has an abortion in the state from prosecution.
The South Dakota State Capitol at sunrise.
The South Dakota State Capitol at sunrise.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 10:56 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota House lawmakers want to ensure that women who have an abortion in the state are not prosecuted under any circumstances.

That’s according to HB 1220, carried by Rep. Rebecca Reimer (R-Chamberlain), which passed unanimously through the House Judiciary committee Wednesday.

It earned the blessing of the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office, and several anti-abortion groups across the state.

Though no woman has been prosecuted for having an abortion under South Dakota law, lawmakers felt it was an important clarification under South Dakota’s near-total ban on abortion in the state.

“This is an important clarification to our law,” said Rachel Oglesby, Chief of Policy in Governor Kristi Noem’s office.

The bill comes as abortion activists are mounting an effort to place abortion on the ballot in 2024. If passed, Dakotans for Health’s initiative would make abortion legal through the first two trimesters and easily accessible during the third.

It’s one of only two bills the legislature has on its docket this year dealing with abortion. Last week, Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt (R-Sioux Falls) tabled a bill that would have clarified language in the law protecting the life of a mother who needs an abortion for medical reasons. Rehfeldt said negotiations on the bill had fallen through, and it was likely to fail.

Because of a unanimous vote, HB 1220 was placed on the House’s consent calendar. It will be voted on in the House sometime next week.