News Law and Policy

New Anti-Choice Laws Go Into Effect in South Dakota and Indiana

Teddy Wilson

A new law in South Dakota bans the practice of so-called sex-selection abortion, while in Indiana two new laws went into effect, banning private insurance coverage of abortion care and mandating that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Correction: A version of this article referenced North Dakota when it should have referenced South Dakota. We regret the error.

Anti-choice laws took effect in South Dakota and Indiana Tuesday.

South Dakota’s law bans the practice of so-called sex-selection abortion, making it illegal to terminate a pregnancy based on the gender of the fetus—an issue that reproductive rights advocates have said is “solution in search of a problem that does not exist.”

The law would punish any physician who is caught performing an abortion because of the gender of the fetus. Under the law, doctors are required to ask women seeking an abortion a series of questions to determine if the gender of the fetus is a factor in her decision. Women seeking an abortion because of “sex-selection” would face no penalties, while abortion providers could face a class 6 felony, which carries up to a $4,000 fine and two years in prison.

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Proponents of the policy cited increased immigrant population, specifically immigrants of Asian ancestry, as justification for the law. Organizations such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum opposed the law on the grounds that it would perpetuate further discrimination against women of Asian ancestry.

A recent report debunked significant misinformation that has been used to justify sex-selection abortion bans around the country, including South Dakota. “Lawmakers have relied on misinterpretations of narrow data and faulty assumptions about sex selection practices to enact sex-selective abortion bans in the United States,” said Sital Kalantry, clinical professor of law and director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, in a statement following the release of the report.

Meanwhile, in Indiana, two new laws went into effect.

Indiana is now the tenth state to ban private insurance coverage of abortion care. It allows the purchase of a separate “rider” at additional cost to cover abortion care. Michigan has a similar law; however, no insurance companies have offered the separate coverage on the individual market. Exceptions for rape, incest, and threats to the life of the pregnant woman are included in the law, but exceptions for fetal anomalies or mental health issues are not included.

Physicians that provide abortions in Indiana also must now obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital; the new law also increases the administrative requirements for maintaining those privileges. The clinic where the physician provides abortion services must maintain a written copy of the agreement, and the clinic must operate a 24-hour emergency assistance number. The law is similar to legislation that has restricted abortion access in states like Texas and Louisiana.

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