SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Last September, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order that directed the state Department of Health to have rules in place banning telemedicine abortions. Now in early 2022, Noem’s office has announced the text of two bills that deal with abortion.
The draft of one piece of legislation announced Friday says it aims to ban telemedicine abortions. It says a medical abortion can only happen “up to nine weeks after conception.”
Kristin Hayward, manager of advocacy and development in South Dakota with Planned Parenthood North Central States, says telemedicine abortion already doesn’t happen.
“That is not something we do here and haven’t done here, so I don’t know why there is a need for legislation that is not something that we perform here at all, because it is a requirement that a physician is in the room,” Hayward said.
On that legislation, Rep. Tamara St. John, a Republican from Sisseton, says she is waiting for additional information.
“I really can’t say on that one ’til we thoroughly go through it and hear the debate, the pros and the cons to it,” St. John said.
The other draft legislation would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected. Hayward says not everyone knows they’re pregnant at that point.
“This state is already so wildly restricted, and now it’s just another, like, level up,” Hayward said.
“As a Native American person, when I was very young, I had a traditional woman in my family that told me that life is sacred, and that’s really been my perspective when these bills come,” St. John said. “Of course, there’s considerations to it, we have to look at how it’s drafted.”
St. John says she intends to be a proponent of the fetal heartbeat legislation.
“Essentially I am pro-life, and my voting record does show that, but when it comes down to reviewing a bill, with any possible amendments to it, it’s hard to say for sure if you’re going to give that support or not,” St. John said.
The heartbeat legislation as it is drafted would not include criminal penalties for the abortion, but it would allow someone to bring civil action against someone else.
“I think what concerns us at Planned Parenthood the most is this Texas-style ban and this sort of vigilante sort of way of dealing with what people don’t know,” Hayward said. “I mean, how does someone regulate if someone knows that someone else has had an abortion.”
The two pieces of legislation are drafts; as of Friday evening they do not have a number or a house of origin.