Bill made South Dakotans earn $10,000 for successfully suing abortion doctors

Gov. Kristi Noem hopes the Supreme Court will rule Roe v. Wade will repeal, but has since introduced legislation to further restrict abortion.

One of the bills would allow South Dakotans to make at least $10,000 if they successfully sued doctors who perform abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

“I look forward to the day when all unborn life is protected,” Noem said in her state of the state address. “The Supreme Court has an historic opportunity to make this a reality. As soon as Roe v. Wade is lifted, our state laws are poised to protect every unborn child in South Dakota. But until then, we can take steps today to protect children in South Dakota.”

South Dakota is one of 12 states with a “trigger law” that would make abortion illegal once Roe v. Wade is lifted. South Dakota law provides an exception when the mother’s life is in danger.

The Supreme Court could overturn or weaken the 1973 decision when it rules on a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks.

The law challenges Supreme Court precedent that says states can only ban abortion after viability — when a fetus or baby can survive outside the womb — which is typically 22 to 24 weeks.

South Dakota has one abortion provider, Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls.

“Heartbeat Bill”

Noem’s most restrictive bill is modeled after a Texas bill that would ban abortions after six weeks — before some people know they’re pregnant.

“Science tells us that an unborn child’s heartbeat begins six weeks after conception. And every abortion after that stops that heartbeat – stops that life – stops that gift of God,” Noem said. “I am introducing legislation to ban all abortions as soon as a heartbeat can be detected.”

Doctors say the sound, heard around six weeks, may not be an actual heartbeat but could be cardiac electrical activity at the site where the heart will develop.

An attorney who helped draft the Texas bill created an enforcement mechanism that makes it harder for judges to rule on the law. after Adam Liptaka former attorney covering the Supreme Court for The New York Times.

The ban would be enforced by private individuals filing lawsuits, not the state filing criminal charges.

Any South Dakotan could sue a doctor who performs an abortion after six weeks. They could also sue those who support and assist the proceedings by taking actions such as: For example, helping pay for an abortion or driving someone to an appointment.

The defendant would have to pay the plaintiff at least $10,000 if a judge agrees the abortion was illegal.

Planned Parenthood, the Biden Administration and other opponents say these types of bills provide a financial incentive to sue and turn citizens into bounty hunters.

Opponents in Texas have had difficulty challenging the law. They are filing lawsuits against various individuals and entities after the Supreme Court ruled that they were suing the wrong people.

Dissenting judges said they should be able to rule the law no matter who is being sued.

Texans who are more than six weeks pregnant are traveling to other states for abortions after state facilities complied with the law to avoid a lawsuit.

Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her 2022 State of the State address at the Capitol in Pierre.

Medical abortions

A second Noem bill would ban telemedicine abortion and increase the number of appointments and time required for a medical abortion at Planned Parenthood.

Medical abortions involve taking two pills to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks. About 40% of South Dakotans and Americans who have abortions choose this procedure over surgical abortions, which are more expensive and invasive.

A telemedicine appointment is when a doctor mails the pills to a patient after meeting with them online. This became possible after the Food and Drug Administration recently allowed the first pill to be shipped through the mail.

Banning telemedicine would not affect Planned Parenthood, as South Dakota patients are already demanding in-person consultations.

The second part of the bill would have implications.

Currently, patients who have a medical abortion must begin with a consultation before returning three days later to take the first pill. They are also given the second pill to take at home a day or two later. They will come back within a week or two to make sure the abortion is complete.

Noem’s bill would prompt patients to pick up and take the second pill at a separate appointment one to three days after taking the first pill. They would then come back two weeks later for the follow-up appointment.

The bill would therefore turn medical abortions into a three-week, four-date procedure.

“The language they use is that this is a dangerous drug that’s completely wrong, that it shouldn’t just be given to patients to take home — which was the FDA’s recommendation,” said Kristin Hayward, advocacy manager for Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls.

“So when the South Dakota government is now saying, ‘Well, no, that’s not necessarily the case and we need to protect pregnant people,’ that’s just inaccurate and goes against medical advice,” she added.

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the South Dakota State Medical Association say there’s no medical reason to get people to take the second pill in person. They say the period can also be dangerous, that waiting three days — or longer in the event of a missed appointment — to take the pill can cause bleeding.

The bill would also disproportionately affect low-income and rural South Dakotans, who must travel long distances and spend money on four dates, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU argue in their lawsuit.

Planned Parenthood says it would have to stop offering medical abortions if the law passes. The organization says it doesn’t have the staffing — it relies on three doctors traveling from Minnesota — for the surge in appointments.

To further discuss the bills and lawsuit, reporter Arielle Zionts took part in SDPB’s daily public affairs showIn that moment.

Ariel Zionts 1 24 22.mp3

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