South Dakota Governor Likely to Sign 72-Hour Abortion Wait

State   Steven Ertelt   Mar 4, 2011   |   4:42PM    Pierre, SD

Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota says he is pro-life and likely to sign into law a bill that requires a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion and helps women find better counseling beforehand.

The bill in question would require women considering an abortion to visit a crisis pregnancy center before going to an abortion business to get counseling on abortion’s alternatives as well as the risks associated with having one.

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. The counseling would not require any out of pocket expense on behalf of the women considering an abortion.

Yesterday, Daugaard said he is pro-life and inclined to sign the bill, HB 1217, into law following its final passage by the state Senate. He said he wanted more time for legal staff to review the bill to ensure there are no unintended consequences.

“I am pro-life,” Daugaard told the Rapid City Journal. “I’ve read the bill and I’m inclined to sign it, but I want to examine it along with the counsel of others to make sure there’s no unintended consequences that haven’t been identified during the debate.”

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 Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls strongly supported the bill, saying it would provide the necessary “informed consent that must be given to mothers considering an abortion so that they are protected and not coerced.”

“This additional protection will also help to insure that mothers are as fully aware as possible of the implications and ramifications of the grave decision to terminate the most sacred gift of life,” it said.

The bill also requires the abortion practitioner to verify that there is no pressure or coercion on the mother when she makes the decision to have an abortion.

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.

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.