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South Dakota House passes bill prohibiting gender-based abortions

The South Dakota House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit individuals from having abortions based on the gender of the fetus. Representative Jenna Haggar [personal website] is the lead sponsor of the bill, which opponents argue [AP report] will be impossible to enforce. The bill would make gender-based abortion a Class 6 felony, carrying a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine, for doctors that knowingly perform the abortion. The bill passed on a 60-10 vote and will move to the Senate for a vote. South Dakota already requires [legislative materials] women seeking an abortion to wait three days after consulting her doctor. Another South Dakota abortion law requires pregnant women to undergo counseling that discourages abortions prior to obtaining one. This law is currently being challenged [JURIST report] in federal court.

There has been much controversy surrounding reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] in the US. In January the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in Alaska Superior Court challenging a new regulation that seeks to prevent Medicaid from covering elective abortions. In November a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued a temporary injunction [JURIST report] against an Indiana law regulating abortion facilities. Also in November Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne petitioned [JURIST report] the US Supreme Court to reinstate an Arizona law and overturn the holding of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which in August struck down [JURIST report] a law that would strip Medicaid funding from doctors and clinics that perform abortions. In October a federal judge dismissed a challenge [JURIST report] to Arizona's race based abortion laws. In May a federal court struck down the state's 20-week abortion ban [JURIST report]. Some scholars have contended that lawsuits challenging state regulations excluding abortion from comprehensive insurance plans could be the vehicle through which courts can reframe the constitutional basis of abortion rights [JURIST op-ed].

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