S.D. Gov. Signs Bill To Lengthen Waiting Period Requirement

March 11, 2013 — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) on Friday signed into law a bill that excludes weekends and holidays from the state's 72-hour waiting period before abortions, which would extend the wait to six days for a woman who seeks an abortion the Friday before a three-day weekend, Reuters reports (Bailey, Reuters, 3/8).

The legislation expands on a South Dakota law (HB 1217) that requires women seeking abortions to wait 72 hours before the procedure. That law 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, 3/1).

A spokesperson for Daugaard said the new measure addresses practical concerns about the mandatory counseling being unavailable during non-business hours.

Court Challenges

Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota recently dropped a legal challenge to the original 72-hour waiting period provision, but it continues to pursue a challenge to the requirement that women visit CPCs. The state has had the waiting period on hold pending the challenge to that provision, but the requirement is expected to be enforced within the next several weeks, according to PPMNS.

PPMNS President Sarah Stoesz said in a statement, "We are very disappointed that the state has chosen to further burden women with medically unnecessary waiting restrictions on abortion" (Reuters, 3/8).