South Dakota’s 2020 abortion report was published in June 2021, showing a record-low abortion total.
There were just 125 abortions reported in South Dakota in 2020, a drop of 70 percent from 2019 and a record low in the state (Fig. 1). Chemical abortions fell by 65 percent, making up 39 percent of all abortions in the state. The Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) estimates that South Dakota’s abortion rate fell below one abortion per 1,000 women of childbearing age in 2020 (Fig. 2). As of March 2022, 28 states had released 2020 abortion statistics, of which eight showed that abortions had decreased from 2019.
State Report Summary
In 2020, 85 percent of South Dakota abortions were performed on state residents. Nine percent were performed on women from Iowa, and six percent were obtained by women from other states. Thirty percent of the abortions were performed on women ages 20 to 24, and another 30 percent were on women ages 25 to 29. An additional 30 percent of South Dakota abortions were performed on women in their thirties, and three percent were on women who were 40 or older. There were nine abortions performed on girls under the age of 20 (five percent), including three abortions on girls under age 18. Parental notice was provided for all three abortions performed on minor girls.
Sixty-four percent of the abortions reported in South Dakota (80 abortions) were performed on non-Hispanic white women. Thirteen percent (16 abortions) were on non-Hispanic black women, and 11 percent (14 abortions) were on non-Hispanic American Indian women. Four percent (five abortions) were on non-Hispanic Asian women. Three percent (four abortions) were on women of multiple races, and another three percent (four abortions) were on Hispanic women. Race was not reported for two abortions.
Forty-five percent of South Dakota abortions were performed on women with a high school education or less. Twenty-six percent were on women who had completed some college, and 29 percent were performed on women with a college degree or another type of certificate. Eighty-six percent of the abortions (107 abortions) were performed on unmarried women, and 14 percent (18 abortions) were on married women.
SUPPORT LIFENEWS! If you like this pro-life article, please help LifeNews.com with a donation!
Nearly two-thirds of the abortions, 66 percent, were obtained by women who reported no prior abortions. Twenty-two percent were on women with one previous abortion, and 12 percent were performed on women with more than one prior abortion. Thirty-five percent of South Dakota abortions were on women with no living children, while a quarter were on women with one child, and 40 percent were on women with two or more children. Twenty-six percent of the abortions were performed on women who had previously had a miscarriage.
Fifty-eight percent of the abortions reported in South Dakota in 2020 were suction abortions, and 39 percent were chemical. Two percent (approximately two abortions) were dilation and evacuation procedures. One abortion was performed using some other means. Fourteen percent of the abortions occurred at six weeks of gestation or earlier, and 27 percent were reported between seven and eight weeks. Twenty-eight percent of South Dakota abortions were performed between nine and 10 weeks of gestation, 19 percent occurred between 11 and 12 weeks, and 11 percent were performed at 13 weeks of gestation or later. One unspecified abortion-related complication was reported in 2020.1
Eighty-five percent of the abortions were self-pay. Thirteen percent (16 abortions) were covered by private insurance, and two percent (three abortions) were covered by a public health plan, which South Dakota defines as “any plan established or maintained by a state, county, or other political subdivision of a state that provides health insurance coverage to enrolled individuals.” The majority of the abortions (73 percent) cost between $600 and $699. Eleven percent cost less than $600, and 16 percent cost $700 or more.
Thirty-eight percent of the women undergoing abortions in South Dakota did not receive anesthesia. A local anesthetic was used for 58 percent of the abortions, and a general anesthetic was used for two percent. Conscious sedation was provided for less than one percent. Fifty-six percent of the abortions were performed by OG-GYNs, and 44 percent were performed by doctors specializing in family medicine.
Nineteen percent of the unborn babies killed by abortion (24 babies) weighed less than 100 grams, and six percent (eight babies) weighed 100 grams or more. Weight was not reported for 74 percent of the abortions. Three of the unborn babies had abnormalities; the report did not indicate the types of abnormalities these babies had. Two of the unborn babies did not have abnormalities, and it was unknown whether the remaining 120 babies had abnormalities. In 2020, South Dakota enacted a law to protect unborn babies from being aborted because they have Down Syndrome.
Fifty-eight percent of the unborn babies’ bodies were incinerated, and 42 percent were disposed of as medical waste or discarded via unknown means.
In South Dakota, women’s reasons for choosing abortion are recorded, and women can give more than one reason. In 2020, 43 percent of the women undergoing abortions reported more than one reason. Seventy percent of the abortions were performed because the woman did not desire to have the child, and fifty percent were performed because the woman could not afford the child. Eighteen percent were performed for the woman’s emotional health, and three percent (four abortions) were performed due to risk to a major bodily function. Thirteen percent of the abortions were performed for some other reason. There were no abortions reported due to rape or incest in 2020.
The South Dakota Department of Health received 136 informed consent forms in 2020. Of the 136 women, 125 went on to obtain abortions, and 11 did not. One woman who obtained an abortion was not provided with the required information due to a medical emergency.
The opportunity to view the ultrasound was offered to 135 women, of whom 85 accepted. The report does not indicate how many of these women went on to have an abortion. Similarly, 124 forms indicated that the woman was offered the opportunity to listen to her baby’s heartbeat; 38 women accepted the opportunity.
COVID-19 and Abortion
In 2020, South Dakota abortions declined dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to travel restrictions, the traveling abortion doctor who performed abortions at the state’s only abortion center, Planned Parenthood Sioux Falls, was unable to fly to South Dakota. As a result, in April 2020, the Planned Parenthood abortion center temporarily closed. Zero abortions were reported in South Dakota in April, May, and June, and only one abortion was reported each month in July, August, and September.
In 2016, CLI analyzed abortion reporting across the 50 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia. South Dakota’s reporting was tied for 7th best. South Dakota could improve its reporting by requiring all health care professionals and facilities, including emergency rooms, to report abortion complications they encounter. South Dakota could also report the types of abnormalities that unborn babies had.
- Statistics on abortion complications reported here represent a minimal number of deaths and complications, as this data is collected in a non-systematic and non-verifiable way. As such, this data cannot be used to calculate either an accurate abortion mortality rate or an accurate abortion complication rate for the state.
- Rates were calculated by CLI using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in South Dakota ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44) x 1,000. Rates may differ slightly from previous CLI articles due to revised population estimates. Population estimates were obtained from the CDC WONDER database.
Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
LifeNews Note: Tessa Longbons is senior research associate and a co-author of the emergency room study.