Is South Dakota Mandating Coercing Women Out Of Abortion?

Robin Marty

There is a lot of focus on protecting women from being coerced into abortions, but what about ensuring they aren't coerced out of their decision to terminate?

H.B. 1217, the South Dakota bill that will mandate all women wait 72 hours to have an abortion and visit faith-based pregnancy centers for “coercion” evaluations before the procedure, is seen by some to simply be putting women in another abusive situation — fighting against coercion to not have an abortion.

In a powerful story about how counseling should really work, Yvonne Hawkins’s editorial tells about her experience as a chaplain talking to a pregnant teen, hospitalized and scared.  When the teen asked her whether she should abort, Hawkins did not tell her to abort, or to continue her pregnancy, but instead spoke with her for days about her options and choices.  In the end, the girl decided on her own to continue the pregnancy.

Via the Argus Leader:

I don’t know whether the same would happen if a South Dakota woman was mandated to visit a pregnancy help center before having an abortion, a requirement that will become state law if Gov. Dennis Daugaard signs recently passed legislation.

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For that matter, I don’t know that it wouldn’t.

The legislation’s supporters say the bill’s necessity is a matter of protecting a woman from being coerced into having an abortion.

And I agree that a woman has the right to protection from coercion. That includes coercion from all potential sources – coercion from family members, spiritual leaders, abortion opponents, friends, boyfriends, abortion-rights advocates and anyone else who feels the need to unduly press an opinion one way or another.

The decision to have an abortion or not, after all, is one of the most critical choices a woman can make.

So the question facing the governor is this: Is a South Dakota woman assured protection from coercion from everyone if he signs this bill?

Pro-choice is about respecting and supporting a woman’s decision regardless of which outcome she chooses.  Those who truly value reproductive rights do not coerce.  It’s a shame that the anti-choice faction cannot say the same.

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