South Dakota House OKs Bill For CPC Visit Before Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 23, 2011   |   1:21PM   |   Pierre, SD

The South Dakota state House on Tuesday approved a bill to require women to visit a crisis pregnancy center before going to an abortion business if they are considering having an abortion.

The idea behind the bill — which goes further than legislation in other states — is to get women tangible pregnancy help and support that they won’t normally find at an abortion center.

Rep. Roger Hunt, a Republican from Brandon who sponsored the bill, said he’s been contacted by many women who made it clear they did not get adequate information or counseling about abortion before getting their abortion at the Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, the state’s only abortion center. Women have told him of how they have been pressured into getting abortions but that the Planned Parenthood abortion center does nothing to help them resist it — just selling them an abortion.

“This is a matter of life. This is a matter of taking life,” Hunt said, according to an AP report. “This is about information and blocking coercion. These are all good and noble objectives.”

The House voted 49-19 for the bill, but, first, Democratic Rep. Peggy Gibson and other abortion advocates promised the bill would be challenged in court as supposedly unconstitutional and intruding into the doctor-patient relationship — even though women getting abortions have never met the abortion practitioner beforehand.

“It substitutes what amounts to harassment, propaganda and coercion for unbiased counseling information,” Gibson claimed, according to AP.

The bill also says the abortion can’t be done until after the mother considering it meets with the abortion practitioner and that paperwork certifies she is voluntarily seeking the abortion.The consultation must come 72 hours prior to the abortion. The mother must also visit the pregnancy center to get a list of information and agencies that can help them keep their baby and raise the child and the South Dakota state health department would furnish a list of such centers.

The Judiciary Committee voted 9-4 for the bill. Several women who testified before the panel in its hearing on the bill said the state’s lone abortion center, run by Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, does not provide adequate pre-abortion counseling.

Brittany Weston, of Yankton, became pregnant at age 22 and her partner insisted she have an abortion because he did not want to pay child support to pay for raising the baby. Before the abortion, Weston only spoke with staff at Planned Parenthood and she said she wanted the abortion clinic to provide her with help on how to deal with the situation — instead, it did an abortion and took the life of her child.

“If this bill you’re discussing today was law at that time, I would have my child right now and he would be about 5 years old,” Weston said. “They took something from me I’ll never get back — my child and my soul.”

Kimberly Martinez, executive director of the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls, told legislators her pregnancy center has trained experts ready to assist pregnant women with options and alternatives.

The bill would be a first of its kind in the nation.