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The Republican Party, both nationally and at the state level, has been busy attacking abortion rights instead of working on the whole economy thing they promised. Now in the state of South Dakota, women will face the longest waiting period in the country before they can legally obtain an abortion.
The legislation, signed into law on Tuesday by Governor Dennis Daugaard, will require women to wait three days before getting an abortion and will have to undergo “counseling” at centers that discourage abortions. Before Dauggard’s signature was even dry, abortion rights groups stated that they will file a lawsuit challenging the measure. Opponents of the law maintain that it would create hardship for women who live in rural South Dakota, hundreds of miles from the state’s only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls.
Daugaard, who gave no interviews after signing the bill, said in a written statement that he had conferred with state attorneys who will defend the law in court and a sponsor who has pledged to raise private money to finance the state’s court fight. Officials have said estimated the cost of defending the law at $1.7 million to $4.5 million. “I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives,” the Republican governor said the statement. “I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.”
About half the states now have at least a 24-hour waiting period but South Dakota is the first to have a three-day waiting period and requiring counseling. The law will certainly make it harder for some women to get abortions, said Kathi Di Nicola, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, which run the clinic in Sioux Falls. Women could have to drive the hundreds of miles to the clinic in order to schedule an abortion, visit a crisis pregnancy center, and then get an abortion, she said. “It would most certainly be a barrier to women who have to travel. South Dakota is a rural state,” Di Nicola said. “Many women who are seeking abortion care already have to take time off work, arrange for child care.”
Supporters of the new law say the Planned Parenthood clinic gives women little information or counseling before they have abortions done by doctors flown in from out of state. They maintain that the bill will help ensure that women are not being coerced into abortions by boyfriends or relatives.
“Women need to just be reminded of the fact there is a natural, legal relationship between them and their child,” said Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, main sponsor of the law.
The law, which takes effect July 1, says an abortion can only be scheduled by a doctor who has personally met with a woman and determined she is voluntarily seeking an abortion. The procedure can’t be done until at least 72 hours after that first consultation. Before getting an abortion, a woman also will have to consult with a pregnancy help center to get information about services available to help her give birth and keep a child. The state will publish a list of pregnancy help centers, all of which seek to persuade women to give birth.