SIOUX FALLS (S.D. (AP) South Dakota Governor. Kristi Noem issued Tuesday's executive order restricting access to abortion medications and making it clear that medication-induced abortions are covered by state law, which requires an in-person consultation.
Noem ordered the state Department of Health, amid a national push by Republicans to ban most abortions. The rules stipulate that abortion-inducing drug prescriptions and dispensed drugs must be approved or dispensable only by a state licensed physician who has undergone an in-person exam. South Dakota law already requires doctors to comply with this requirement. However, the order by the Republican governor was issued in anticipation of the Food and Drug Administration allowing abortion medications to be sent via the mail or virtual pharmacy later this year.
Access to abortion medication is now a major concern after a Texas law was passed that bans abortions once doctors can detect cardiac activity. This happens around six weeks before most women realize they are pregnant.
According to the Department of Health, 39% of South Dakota abortions were performed by medication last year. One clinic in the state regularly performs abortions. Opponents of banning telemedicine abortions claim that the method is safe and would have adisproportionate impact on rural residents who must travel long distances to reach the nearest clinic.
An abortion is a private medical decision that is protected by the U.S. Constitution. It is disappointing that Gov. Janna Farley is the communications director of American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. Noem continues her intrusion into the patient-doctor relationships." South Dakota is not spared from the assaults on abortion rights.
Noem claims that medically-induced abortions can cause death and that she made her order in the best interests of women's safety and health.
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South Dakota law requires that doctors meet with pregnant women and conduct an examination before they can schedule a medical or surgical abortion. The procedure must be scheduled 72 hours in advance by women. A hospital must perform abortions after the 12th weeks of pregnancy. Abortions after that time are prohibited unless there is an emergency.
Noem's order prohibits drugs from being sent by mail or any other delivery service. It also bans drugs being distributed in schools and on state property. It also requires licenses to any clinics that only provide abortion medicine. They must report more on medically-induced abortions as well as any health complications.
Similar restrictions like the Ohio law passed this year have been stopped by courts.
After the Texas law went into effect last week, President Joe Biden promised to examine what federal steps could be taken to ensure that Texas women have legal and safe abortions.
Noem's order clearly states that she expects the Legislature will make her order law next year. She claimed that the Biden administration was trying to use telemedicine abortions in order to weaken state laws and make it more convenient to have an abortion.
"They are currently working to make it easier for an unborn child to die via telemedicine abortion," Noem stated in a statement. "That isn't going to happen here in South Dakota.