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Legislative Recommendations from the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion

Report outlines recommendations based on information learned since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision


By Bob Ellis

Dakota Voice


*The following is the first in a series of features Dakota Voice will be publishing which takes a closer look at the report prepared by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion.



The South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion, commissioned by the state legislature during the 2005 session, has released its official report

During hearings on House Bill 1166 regarding abortion and medical informed consent, committees in the House and Senate heard testimony from a considerable number of women who have had abortions.  It became apparent that many of them had signed abortion consent forms without truly being informed about all relevant aspects of the procedure. 

According to the report just released by the task force, during the HB 1166 hearings, one woman testified:

"the policy underlying abortion is a lie. First and foremost, because it denies the essential benefit of motherhood. It tells us that we are not forfeiting anything of value for ourselves. We are told we lost nothing, nothing of value. The truth is that the loss is massive. Massive and life altering. Your House Bill 1166 provides 5 an important and essential message that the pregnant mother does have a great benefit, that her child already exists and that she has this existing relationship with her child, and that she has a great fundamental and constitutional right to that relationship, all of which she is giving up, all of which is lost as a result of the abortion...If I had been given this information, I would never had had an abortion."

In light of these findings, the legislature passed HB 1233, forming the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion.

The task force met six times between August and December 2005, hearing testimony from experts, interested parties, and from women who have had abortions. 

In light of new information which has been learned since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion in the United States by judicial fiat, the task force believes the Supreme Court should reconsider the Roe decision. 

The task force recommends and urges a legal ban on abortion, but recognizes that this may not happen right away, especially since such a law would undoubtedly be challenged by pro-abortion groups and have to work its way through appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In the meantime, the task force has proposed the following additional legislation in an effort to reduce the loss of life and harm caused by abortion:

  1. Amend the State Constitution to include provisions that provide the unborn child, from the moment of conception, with the same protection of the law that the child receives after birth and also provide protections for the mother-child relationship.

  2. Require the abortion doctor to personally complete, while questioning the woman in confidence, a written form provided by the State that specifically asks the woman if she is being pressured into having the abortion. If she indicates that she is being pressured, require that the abortion shall not be performed.

  3. Require the abortion doctor to verify the age of the patient and the father of the unborn child, and require the abortion doctor to report to the appropriate authorities any sexual activity that is contrary to South Dakota law.

  4. Require strict reporting requirements concerning the reasons a woman is seeking an abortion. The report must contain a written disclosure by the doctor as to whether or not continuing the pregnancy threatens the health or life of the woman. If the threat exists, the doctor must detail the nature of the threat.

  5. Require that the State create a written disclosure form that requires the abortion doctor to provide the mother, in person, with all of the risks of abortion to the mother and her unborn child. Require that this disclosure take place before the woman pays for the abortion and before she is taken to the procedure room. Require that the mother must also be provided sufficient time for personal review and discernment.

  6. Require that no abortion can be performed unless the pregnant mother, prior to making an appointment for an abortion, receives counseling and disclosures about the nature of the risks and the alternatives to abortion by a pregnancy care center that does not perform abortions.

  7. Require that the abortion doctor show the pregnant mother a quality ultrasound image of her unborn child before the procedure is performed and prior to her signing the consent form on which she indicates that she viewed the ultrasound.

  8. Require the abortion doctor to have hospital privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the location where the abortion is performed.

  9. Require that the South Dakota Vital Statistics include disclosure of all facilities that perform abortions in South Dakota as well as the number of abortions performed per year at each facility.

  10. Strengthen laws so that abortion facilities are thoroughly regulated and regularly inspected by the South Dakota Department of Health or other proper authority.

  11. Strengthen the child support laws, including the requirement that the father of an unborn child support the mother and their unborn child during the pregnancy and thereafter.

  12. Strengthen laws that provide financial and other support to pregnant women so that lack of support no longer compels a woman to seek an abortion.

  13. Strengthen and clarify existing public policy regarding character development education pursuant to SDCL 13-33-6.1. Such clarifications should include a definition of sexual abstinence and a statement that abstinence education in South Dakota is to exclude contraceptive-based sexuality education.

  14. Any other legislation that has as its goal to decrease the number of abortions in our State.

HB 1233, the act which created the abortion task force was passed by a 63-4 vote in the state House and 28-6 in the state Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Mike Rounds in March 2005. 

Voting against the act in the House were: Joni M. Cutler (R-14 Sioux Falls), Casey Murschel (R-12 Sioux Falls), Charles Turbiville (R-31 Deadwood), and Thomas Van Norman (D-28A Eagle Butte).  Voting against the act in the Senate were: Thomas Dempster (R-9 Sioux falls), Dave Knudson (R-14 Sioux Falls), Ben Nesselhuf (D-17 Vermillion), Duane Sutton (R-3 Aberdeen), Theresa Two Bulls (D-27 Pine Ridge) and Clarence Kooistra (R-25 Garretson).

The following members were appointed to the task force by Governor Mike Rounds: State Senator Stan Adelstein (R-Rapid City), Dr. Marty Allison of Pierre, State Senator Julie Bartling (D-Burke), Dr. Maria Bell of Sioux Falls, Travis Benson of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, University of South Dakota law professor David Day, State Senator Jay Duenwald (R-Hoven), State Senator Brock Greenfield (R-Clark), Rapid City therapist Linda Holcomb, State Rep. Roger Hunt (R-Brandon), State Rep. Elizabeth Kraus (R-Rapid City), Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota Director Kate Looby, State Rep. Kathy Miles (D-Sioux Falls), John Stransky, State Rep. Theresa Two Bulls (D-Pine Ridge), Dr. Allen Unruh of Sioux Falls, and Dr. David Wachs of Aberdeen.

Related report:

South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion Report Addresses Sex Education

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