South Dakota's Senate voted on March 2 to pass legislation requiring women to wait 72 hours and be provided counseling before undergoing an abortion.
In a 21-13 vote, the Senate approved HB 1217, which mandates that a licensed physician first meet with a woman considering an abortion, discuss the documented risks with her, and schedule the procedure no earlier than 72 hours after the assessment. The bill now awaits signature from Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls strongly supported the bill, saying it would provide the necessary “informed consent that must be given to mothers considering an abortion so that they are protected and not coerced.”
“This additional protection will also help to insure that mothers are as fully aware as possible of the implications and ramifications of the grave decision to terminate the most sacred gift of life,” read a diocesan statement.
The legislation also requires that that prior to an abortion being performed in the state, a licensed physician must determine during the preliminary consultation that the mother's decision to abort is not the result of any coercion. The doctor must also obtain the approximate age of the father of the unborn child, to see if a significant age difference is a coercive factor or influence.
Under the new measure, the pregnant mother will be provided a list of all pregnancy help centers registered with the South Dakota Department of Health, and prior to the day of the scheduled abortion, have a consultation at one of the registered pregnancy help centers.
Republican state Sen. Al Novstrup, the primary sponsor of the bill, said that the legislation will help protect women from being pressured into having abortions and better inform them of other options, according to the Associated Press.
Rep. Novstrup asserted that women in the state get inadequate counseling at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls and that women only see a doctor once they've already had an abortion.
“Defend the right of women to be informed and know the risk before they go forward,” Novstrup said on March 2, before the vote took place.
The measure will also provide a pregnant mother – or her survivors as the case may be – the chance to obtain civil penalties from a doctor who fails to comply with the provisions of the act, resulting in damages or harm to the woman.
Additionally, the legislation requires that the mother not consent to an abortion until the day it's scheduled and may not go through with the procedure until all of the bill's provisions are met, including verification that she consulted a pregnancy help center.