National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Proposed Changes to S.D. Pre-Abortion Counseling Law Head to Gov.

Proposed Changes to S.D. Pre-Abortion Counseling Law Head to Gov.

March 6, 2014 — The South Dakota Senate on Tuesday approved a measure (HB 1180) that would modify the state's pre-abortion counseling and mandatory delay law by prohibiting crisis pregnancy centers from affiliating with adoption agencies, the Rapid City Journal reports (Mercer, Rapid City Journal, 3/4).

Legislation passed in 2011 made South Dakota the first state to implement a 72-hour mandatory delay before women can receive abortion care (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/29/11). The law also mandated that women seeking abortion services must first visit CPCs, which aim to dissuade women from having the procedure (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/23/11).

In addition, the 2011 law prohibited the centers from affiliating with abortion providers. Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota has challenged elements of the law in court (Rapid City Journal, 3/4). A judge has temporarily blocked the counseling requirement from taking effect (Brokaw, AP/Centre Daily Times, 3/4).

The bill was approved by the state House last month and now heads to Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) for consideration.

Details of New Legislation

The new bill would expand on the 2011 measure by requiring CPCs to annually submit lists to the state Department of Health with names of the licensed personnel who provide counseling at the centers. The department would be authorized to check each person's licensing status and revoke a center's authority if it did not have licensed individuals to provide the counseling (Rapid City Journal, 3/4).

In addition, the centers would be prohibited from arranging adoption services and would instead be required to refer women seeking such services to other organizations.

Key Arguments

Abortion-rights supporters have noted that CPCs are not neutral and will attempt to dissuade women from seeking abortions (AP/Centre Daily Times, 3/4).

State Sen. Al Novstrup (R), the bill's Senate sponsor, said the measure aims to make the centers "a truly neutral place" and noted the adoption industry does not oppose the measure. He added that nothing in the bill discourages women from seeking help from an adoption agency (Rapid City Journal, 3/4).