Amy Phillips Bursch, Media Relations Manager
Let me tell you about South Dakota, where I lived from age 2 to 33. It’s a lovely state with lovely people. I had a reasonably idyllic childhood and received a good education. If I were interested in raising a family, it wouldn’t be a bad place to do it. No matter where I go, my heart will always be in Spearfish Canyon.
|That goes for you, too, South Dakota Legislature. (Stormbear/Flickr)|
The entire state of South Dakota has fewer people than the Las Vegas metropolitan area. It also has one – count it, one – clinic that provides abortions, a Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls that has to fly doctors in from Minneapolis because nobody local will perform them.
This clinic is about seven hours by car away from cities on the other side of the state.
South Dakota also has one of the most virulently anti-choice legislatures this side of the Dominican Republic. Seriously. Every legislative session seems to be aimed at how lawmakers can shut down Planned Parenthood and turn the state into a mecca for blastocysts:
- In 2011, lawmakers considered a measure that would have had the effect of making it legal to kill abortion doctors. Mercifully, the bill was defeated.
- In 2011, lawmakers passed and Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill that requires women to wait a longest-in-the-nation 72 hours before having an abortion. Women also must also receive mandatory counseling at a “crisis pregnancy center,” most of which are run by anti-choice religious organizations. That law is currently tied up in the courts.
- In 2006, the South Dakota Legislature passed and Gov. Mike Rounds signed into law a bill banning abortion. South Dakotans responded – and defeated the abortion ban at the ballot box by 11 points. In 2008, anti-choice forces AGAIN tried to ban abortion – this time through a vote of the people. Once again, the people responded, and the ban failed. Yay for common sense!
Bad news came yesterday in the form of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld a 2005 South Dakota law that REQUIRES doctors to tell women seeking abortions in South Dakota that if they go through with it, they face an increased risk of suicide. Even though it’s not true.
In short, the court ruled that doctors can be forced to lie to their patients in South Dakota. This is in America, folks.
The 2005 law also requires that doctors tell women that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” and that they have a constitutionally protected “existing relationship with that unborn human being,” whatever that means.
So here’s a reminder as we fight for women around the world to have access to contraception and safe abortion: Those same rights are increasingly under attack right here in the United States, and we need to make sure that we're fighting back.