February 24, 2014 — The South Dakota House last week passed a bill (HB 1162) that would ban abortions based on the sex of the fetus, while a legislative committee rejected a measure (HB 1240) that would have banned abortions if the fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Brokaw, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/20).
Under HB 1162, doctors who knowingly perform or attempt an abortion requested because of the fetus' sex could face up to a $4,000 fine and two years in prison. Abortion providers would be required to ask women whether they knew the fetus' sex and were seeking an abortion for that reason.
House lawmakers voted 60-10 to send HB 1162 to the state Senate. Supporters of the bill said son preference in some Asian nations leads to abortions of female fetuses and that they do not want the practice coming to South Dakota.
However, state Rep. Peggy Gibson (D) said the bill essentially would be unenforceable because it would be impossible to compel a woman to say she was ending a pregnancy because of the sex of the fetus. Further, there is no evidence that the practice occurs in South Dakota, she said (Brokaw, AP/Kansas City Star, 2/19).
In rejecting the Down syndrome bill, members of state House and Human Services Committee cited concerns that defending it in court would jeopardize South Dakota's legal defense of previously enacted abortion restrictions.
State Rep. Steve Hickey (R) said there was support for the bill but that "it's too risky ... to compromise that legal progress we've made" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/20).