South Dakota's Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed into law a bill which would require a three-day waiting period and counseling at pregnancy health centers for women seeking an abortion.
Supporters of the bill said the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Sioux Falls gives women little information or counseling before they have abortions done by doctors flown in from out of state. They said the bill will help make sure women are not being coerced into abortions by boyfriends or relatives.
The new law requires that an abortion can only be scheduled by a doctor who has personally met with a woman and determined she is voluntarily seeking an abortion. The abortion cannot be done until at least 72 hours after that first consultation.
After signing the bill into law, Gov. Daugaard said in a statement, "I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives."
"I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices," he remarked.
“Just one woman being coerced to have an abortion is too many,” said Leslee Unruh, co-founder of the Sioux Falls-based pro-life Alpha Center. “Women will be better informed and safer.”
Rep. Roger Hunt (R-Brandon), the main sponsor of the law, said that women need to be reminded that there is “a natural, legal relationship between them and their child,” the Associated Press reports.
The state will publish a list of pregnancy help centers where women considering abortion must receive information about services available to help her give birth and keep a child.
“If we truly want to have less abortions, let's give these women the 72 hours they need to make this decision on their own without being coerced,” Unruh told the Associated Press.
Kathi Di Nicola, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, argued the law would make it harder for some women to get abortions and would be a “barrier” to women who have to travel in the rural state.
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota have said they will ask a judge to strike down the measure as unconstitutional. The law is scheduled to take effect on July 1.
Opponents of the measure said the legal fight would cost the state money, but Rep. Hunt said the state would only have to pay legal costs if it lost the lawsuit. He added that the money was well spent to try to prevent the about 800 abortions done each year in South Dakota. Donors have also pledged money to help defend the law.