New South Dakota law mandates three-day wait before abortions

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 14:29 EDT
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The Republican Governor of South Dakota signed a bill into law Tuesday, formally mandating that women in the state wait three days and visit with anti-abortion activists before undergoing a medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy.

With Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s signature, South Dakota claims the title of having the longest mandatory waiting period for an abortion out of any other state in the nation. About half of the states require patients to wait 24 hours.

There is only one abortion clinic in South Dakota: the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) in Sioux Falls.

South Dakota’s law was seen as part of a broader attack on Planned Parenthood by social conservatives acting at the state and federal levels.

The non-profit organization is perhaps best known for abortion services, thanks to media campaigns launched by its religious conservative critics. However, the vast majority of PPFA’s activities focus on education, womens’ health, disease screenings and pregnancy prevention.

To this effect, PPFA says that each year it plays a role in preventing over 600,000 unwanted pregnancies, and only three percent of their patients request abortion services. By contrast, figures show PPFA is ten times more likely to be helping prevent an abortion than carrying one out.

But in an exclusive interview with Raw Story, Republican state Sen. Al Novstrup, the South Dakota bill’s primary sponsor, did not seem to know that. He even suggested that Planned Parenthood is akin to an abortion factory, ushering women in and putting them on a doctor’s table without so much as a consultation.

He also suggested they have a financial incentive in carrying out as many abortions as possible, which is demonstrably false as similar procedures are astronomically more expensive when carried out at private hospitals. Most women pay between $500-$900 for abortion services through PPFA.

The 72-hour waiting period aside, the law will also require women to consult with one of the “crisis pregnancy centers” around the state, which are mainly run by anti-abortion activists.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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