South Dakota approves 3-day abortion waiting period

South Dakota approves 3-day abortion waiting period

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[JURIST] South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard [official website] signed [press release, PDF] HB 1217 [legislative materials] into law on Tuesday, requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days before obtaining an abortion [JURIST news archive]. The law [text], which passed through the Senate [JURIST report] earlier this month, contains the longest waiting period in the country and provides specifically that counseling must be sought at a “pregnancy help center … which … routinely consults with women for the purpose of helping them keep their relationship with their unborn children.” The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota (ACLUSD) and Planned Parenthood Federation of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota [advocacy websites] plan to challenge [ACLU press release; Planned Parenthood press release] the law. Daugaard has said he is prepared for the state attorney to defend the law [CNN report] and alluded to a private donor willing to finance the endeavor.

Several state legislatures have acted recently to place restrictions abortions. Last week, the Missouri House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation restricting late-term abortions [JURIST report] and imposing penalties on doctors who fail to comply with the new restrictions. The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a similar bill [JURIST report] that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation. Last month, the Kansas House of Representatives also approved several new restrictions on abortion [JURIST report]. If the bills are approved by the Senate, Kansas residents will not be able to obtain an abortion after the 20-week mark, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain. Other restrictions include a stringent parental consent and notification system for a minor’s abortion and “clear and convincing” evidence for a judicial bypass of parental consent; the ability to bring a civil suit against abortion providers if they violate Kansas law; the right for criminal prosecution of abortion providers if they violate Kansas law; and for abortion providers to inform patients that the fetus is a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.” South Dakota unsuccessfully tried to ban abortions [JURIST report] in 2007.