News Abortion

South Dakota Legislature Tables Bill That Could Have Banned Abortion at Seven Weeks

Teddy Wilson

Two South Dakota bills that would have imposed severe restrictions on abortion procedures as well as penalties on abortion providers, including possible life in prison, will not move forward in the legislature.

Two South Dakota bills that would have imposed severe restrictions on abortion procedures as well as penalties on abortion providers, including possible life in prison, will not move forward in the legislature after a hearing this week of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 1241, sponsored by Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-Tea), would have made illegal any abortion performed in which a “living” fetus is “dismembered” during an abortion. The legislation appeared to target dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedures, which may be used in a second-trimester abortion. Physicians told Rewire the bill could, in practice, have the effect of banning all surgical abortions in the state past seven weeks’ gestation.

Latterell also sponsored HB 1240, which would have banned abortions in cases when the fetus was “diagnosed with, or has had a genetic screening indicating that the unborn child may have Down syndrome.” During his testimony, Latterell cited his sisters, both of whom have Down syndrome, as examples for why the bill should be passed. “We must stop killing children simply because they have Down syndrome,” said Latterell. 

Susie Blake, a former South Dakota state representative, testified against the bill, saying the issue at hand is not about whether people with Down syndrome have value, but rather “a woman’s ability to have a choice.”

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Abbie Peterson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, testified that the bill would “insert the government into a woman’s medical decisions, by making a list of when and why a woman can exercise her right to legal abortion care.”

Committee members voted 8 to 4 to defer HB 1240, blocking it from being considered for a vote by the full house. Lawmakers said that the bill created legal complications for ongoing litigation on previously passed abortion restrictions in the state. “It’s too risky in my estimation to compromise that legal progress that we’ve made,” said Rep. Steve Hickey (R-Sioux Falls).

Latterell was the lone person to testify on behalf of HB 1241; he said he drafted amendments to the bill to address legal concerns about the language, but that he would not submit them to the committee. He went on to say that he would introduce a similar bill next year after working with physicians and attorneys to “come up the correct language to be successfully introduced and passed.” After his testimony, Latterell requested that the bill be tabled, and committee members voted 11 to 1 approving his request.

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Governors Face Twitter Backlash

Jenn Stanley

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has made anti-choice laws a key part of his agenda, so Kentucky women are fielding their reproductive health questions to #AskBevinAboutMyVag.

The social media world has exploded this week with hashtags like  and , with which Kentuckians and Ohioans field their reproductive health questions to their anti-choice governors.

Both Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) have made passing anti-choice legislation a key part of their respective agendas, with Kasich proving to be among the nation’s most effective in attacking reproductive rights.

Louisvillian Molly Shah last week created the hashtag #AskBevinAboutMyVag, after Bevin signed into law a Republican-backed bill forcing women to sit through a real-time counseling session 24 hours before an abortion procedure.

Shah and co-authors Emily Van Bogaert and Jamie Yeager wrote a commentary in Insider Louisville condemning the anti-choice legislative agenda that inspired the social media campaign. They explained that while Bevin was signing the “informed consent” bill, another anti-choice bill passed through a Kentucky state senate subcommittee consisting of only men. 

SB 152 landed in the (all-male) Senate Veterans, Military Affairs & Public Protection Committee, which is charged with handling “matters relating to veterans, including veterans’ rights, benefits and education; veterans’ nursing homes; military affairs and civil defense; national guard; retention of military bases; safety of citizens and security of public buildings and property; military memorials and cemeteries” — and, of course, every woman’s private parts.

We appreciate that Kentucky’s lawmakers consider our birth cannons to be American heroes, but why didn’t the bill start out in the Health and Welfare Committee? Was it because that committee actually includes female senators?

The authors are referring to a bill that would require doctors to perform an ultrasound and describe the image to people seeking abortion care. If SB 152 were to pass, doctors who failed to follow the mandate would be forced to pay a $100,000 penalty for the first offense and $250,000 for subsequent offenses.

“Despite the fact that men feel welcome to regulate our vaginas, they squirm upon hearing us discuss them in public,” the commentary reads. The social media campaign caught on fast and garnered international attention.

Shah later urged women to tweet at Kasich, who has been in the national spotlight due to his 2016 Republican presidential campaign.

Kentucky’s social media campaign will step into the real world on February 23 at 1 p.m., when the ACLU of Kentucky and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky host a reproductive rights rally at the state capitol. Until then, Shah, Bogaert, and Yaeger used their commentary to remind women where to go if they have any questions about their vaginas:

Oh, and don’t forget — you can always call (502) 564-2611 to schedule an appointment at Dr. Bevin’s clinic, or (502) 564-8100 to consult your triage nurses in the Kentucky Legislature.

News Abortion

South Dakota Republican Introduces ‘Medically Inaccurate,’ ‘Inflammatory’ Anti-Abortion Bill (Updated)

Teddy Wilson

The bill targets dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedures, which may be used in a second-trimester abortion. The D and E procedure is often used when it is the safest means of preserving the life, health, and perhaps the fertility of the pregnant person.

UPDATE, February 20, 12:09 p.m.: According to news reports, the South Dakota house has introduced an amendment to Rep. Latterell’s bill that “removed the original content of the beheading bill and replaced it with one sentence: ‘The State of South Dakota recognizes the sanctity of human life.'”

A South Dakota lawmaker has introduced a bill to restrict abortion services in the state by targeting second-trimester abortions, repackaging legislative language from a controversial bill introduced in 2014.

HB 1230, sponsored by Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-Tea), would make it illegal for any physician to “knowingly behead a living unborn child with the intent of endangering the life or health of the child.”

The anti-choice bill includes similarly graphic language that was included in HB 1241, a bill introduced last year by Latterell. HB 1230 replaces a ban on the “dismemberment or decapitation of certain living unborn children” with a ban on “the beheading of certain living unborn children.”

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Like its predecessor, HB 1230 targets dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedures, which may be used in a second-trimester abortion. The D and E procedure is often used when it is the safest means of preserving the life, health, and perhaps the fertility of the pregnant person.

Another change is language that the bill is not intended to target the “aspiration abortion procedure.” During the procedure used to remove a fetus prior to 13 weeks’ gestation, commonly referred to as suction aspiration, the fetus is often not removed fully intact.

HB 1241 did not include such language. As legal analysis by Rewire has shown, the broad language in HB 1241 could have, in practice, banned all surgical abortions in the state.

Another change Latterell made to the bill was to reduce the criminal penalties that a physician could face for performing the procedure. HB 1230 reduces a violation of the proposed law from the Class B felony to a Class 1 felony. Instead of facing life imprisonment, physicians will face 50 years imprisonment.

Latterell has already had more success with HB 1230 than he had with HB 1241, which was tabled in committee. The state’s Health and Human Services committee voted 11 to 2 along party lines Tuesday to approve the bill.

During his testimony at the committee hearing, Latterell said that the bill was intended to address “a serious loophole in our current law.” Latterell said HB 1230’s language was narrowed to avoid a court challenge.

Latterell compared the use of the D and E procedure to revolting methods of execution such as beheading as used by “unconscionably violent soldiers” in the Middle East. “It’s unfortunate that in our state Planned Parenthood abortionists in Sioux Falls are similarly beheading unborn children during dismemberment abortions,” he said during the hearing.

However, no D and E procedures are performed in South Dakota. Planned Parenthood Sioux Falls, the only clinic that provides abortions in South Dakota, provides medication abortions up to nine weeks and surgical abortions up to 13 weeks’ gestation. The clinic does not provide surgical abortions in which a D and E is required.

The clinic has told Rewire that all patients who need D and E services are referred to clinics in other states.

Technically, hospitals can perform such procedures in the state, though none of the hospitals in the state use D and E.

Latterell said during the hearing that most people do not know that the procedure occurs, “because Planned Parenthood Sioux Falls denies that they behead unborn children.” Latterell cited reporting by Rewire as proof that Planned Parenthood has “no problem” with the procedure since they refer patients needing the procedure to abortion providers in other states.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jennifer Aulwes said the language is medically inaccurate and inflammatory, and that South Dakota’s sole abortion clinic does not perform abortions after 14 weeks’ gestation, according to reporting by KSFY.

“I’m just angry at what Planned Parenthood is doing…to us and to our children,” Latterell said.

The bill now awaits debate and vote by the full South Dakota house, in which Republicans hold a 58-12 advantage.