South Dakota Becomes 13th State to Ban Late-Term Abortions

By Barbara Hollingsworth | March 11, 2016 | 5:20 PM EST

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard. (AP photo)


( – Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill late Thursday that prohibits most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, making South Dakota the 13th state in the nation to ban late-term abortions.

“The state has a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain,” the bill stated.

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed the state Senate 21-14 on February 23, and was approved 59-7 in the South Dakota House on March 3.

The law recognizes “the humanity of unborn children”, Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-District 6), who sponsored the bill in the House, told the Associated Press. “These are people just like you and me.”

“When an abortion of an unborn child capable of feeling pain is necessary due to a medical emergency, the physician shall deliver the child in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, but only if it is consistent with preserving the pregnant mother's life and preventing an irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman,” the new law states.

“It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to intentionally or recklessly perform, or attempt to perform, an abortion of an unborn child capable of feeling pain unless it is a medical emergency…. No medical emergency may form the basis for an exception… if it is based on a claim or diagnosis that the pregnant mother will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or other self harm.”

The law directs the Department of Health to require abortionists to report the date, time and method of all abortions they perform, as well as the “specific reason for the induced abortion.”

The ban on late-term abortions was one of several pro-life meausres passed by the South Dakota legislature this session.

One bill signed by the governor “adds the penalty of a Class 6 felony” to a current law that “prohibits the sale, acquisition, or use of fetal tissue, organs, cells, or body parts subject to induced abortion for animal or human research or transplantation.”

Another bill requires that women be informed of “all known medical risks of the [abortion] procedure,” including depression and an increased risk of suicide, and that they be told that “it is possible to discontinue a drug-inducted abortion.”

South Dakota Right to Life pointed out that “41,315 South Dakotans have been aborted since Roe v. Wade… the equivalent of losing all the population in at least 20 South Dakota counties.” 

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