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S.D. Senate Approves Bill To Modify Abortion Counseling, Waiting Period Law

S.D. Senate Approves Bill To Modify Abortion Counseling, Waiting Period Law

February 27, 2012 — The South Dakota Senate on Thursday voted 26-7 to pass a bill (HB 1254) that would alter a 2011 law that mandates a 72-hour waiting period and counseling at a crisis pregnancy center before abortion care, the AP/NECN reports. The bill has been approved by the House and now goes to Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R).

The bill does not alter the law's main requirements but would mandate that the CPC counseling sessions be conducted by licensed counselors, doctors, nurses or other licensed professionals. The bill would still require abortion clinic doctors to determine whether a woman would be at risk for developing mental health problems after an abortion, but it specifies which factors should be considered, including coercion, a woman's age, any previous mental health conditions and her religious views.

Effects on Legal Challenge

Last year, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota -- which operates the state's only abortion clinic -- sued to block the law on the grounds that it is an unconstitutional burden on a woman's right to an abortion. U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier temporarily blocked most of the law's provisions until the court challenge is decided.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) said the bill bolsters the state's defense by clearing up some issues Schreier raised while reviewing the lawsuit. State Sen. Elizabeth Kraus (R) said the bill clarifies the Legislature's intent in passing the law (AP/NECN, 2/23).