South Dakota has signed into law a bill requiring women to visit a “pregnancy center” before seeking an abortion. These pregnancy centers are designed to persuade women to carry their pregnancies to term instead of ending them.
Though pregnancy centers have been around for years, South Dakota has just become the first state to require women to take this step. The bill also establishes a three-day waiting period between when a woman first sees a doctor about an abortion and when the procedure can be carried out. This is the country’s longest waiting period.
This law easily passed South Dakota’s heavily Republican dominated legislature.
South Dakota has long had some of the most restrictive laws in the country when it comes to abortion. It’s not that unusual for women to be asked to jump through hoops to access abortion services. This new law is something else, though, as the New York Times explains:
Many states require counseling from doctors or other clinic staff members before an abortion to cover topics like health risks. What makes the new South Dakota law different is that the mandated counseling will come from people whose central qualification is that they are opposed to abortion.
Planned Parenthood plans to challenge the law in court. Planned Parenthood maintains one clinic in South Dakota, which is the only provider of nonemergency abortion services in the state. Women often have to drive hours to see a doctor there. The doctors are flown in each week from Minnesota.
Supporters of the law say that it changes nothing about women’s abortion access, since they are still free to have the abortion after their mandated counseling with anti-abortion activists. Pro-choice advocates feel it’s an unnecessary and invasive step to add to an already fraught decision.
What do you think? Has South Dakota gone too far?