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S.D. Senate Advances Bill To Extend 72-Hour Waiting Period Provision

S.D. Senate Advances Bill To Extend 72-Hour Waiting Period Provision

March 1, 2013 — The South Dakota Senate on Thursday voted 24-9 to approve a measure under which weekends and holidays would not count toward a mandatory three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions in the state, Reuters reports (Wisniewski, Reuters, 2/28).

A South Dakota law (HB 1217) requires women to wait 72 hours before obtaining abortions. It also states that women have to receive counseling at antiabortion crisis pregnancy centers during the waiting period. In addition, physicians must ask women a series of questions to determine whether they are seeking an abortion voluntarily, have mental health problems or have religious objections (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/3).

The bill will be sent to Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) next week, according to his spokesperson, Tony Venhuizen. Venhuizen did not say whether the governor would sign the measure but noted that Daugaard is supportive of the "concept" of a longer waiting period (Reuters, 2/28).

Key Arguments

At a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday, state Rep. Jon Hansen (R) -- a bill sponsor -- said the change is necessary because many CPCs are not open on weekends and holidays. The committee went on to approve the measure 6-3. Opponents of the measure said it could create more barriers to care for women in rural areas.

Alisha Sidor, director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, said it would "effectively ban abortion for many, if not all, women" in the state (Brokaw, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/27).

After the full Senate vote, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota President Sarah Stoesz released a statement, saying, "This bill has absolutely nothing to do with helping women." She added, "Instead, this bill is about further delaying women from having an abortion and protecting the convenience and schedules of crisis pregnancy centers" (Brokaw, AP/Miami Herald, 2/28).