24. South Dakota Takes Extreme Measures to Be the Top Anti–Abortion State

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South Dakota is taking extreme action against any person who performs an abortion within the state’s borders. The South Dakota House is taking up a bill to redefine “justifiable homicide” that may “make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions,” Mother Jones reports. A bill backed by the GOP could, in theory, allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion, even if she wanted the procedure. GOP lawmakers at the state and federal level have come up with four other radical abortion restrictions to marginalize women’s rights and eradicate choice. Through such inflexible attachment to pro-life policies, the GOP subordinates the choices and lives of women to a narrow-minded and impracticable philosophy.

In 1994 the state banned abortion providers inside its borders. “Planned Parenthood flies a doctor in from out-of-state once a week to see patients at a Sioux Falls clinic. Women from the more remote parts of the large, rural state drive up to six hours to reach this lone clinic” and must “receive counseling and wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure.”

Other proposed restrictions include: GOP state lawmakers in Arizona and Ohio unveiled so-called “Heartbeat Bills” to “prohibit women from ending pregnancies at the first detectable fetal heartbeat.” The heartbeat can be heard “within 18 to 24 days of conception” and “in almost all cases by six weeks,” a period in which “many women don’t even know they’re pregnant.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) “fast-tracked” an anti-abortion bill mandating that “pregnant women be shown an ultrasound of the fetus at least two hours before an abortion.” Physicians would have to show the fetus’s dimensions, limbs or internal organs, and — if audible — the fetal heartbeat.”

Arizona GOP Rep. Steve Montenegro introduced bills to criminalize abortions if they’re sought because of race or sex. The bill would charge doctors with a Class 3 felony if they “knowingly perform abortions for these reasons.”

On the federal level, House Republicans took the first two months of the new year to marginalize the rights of women. First, they tried to exclude certain victims — including women who are drugged, women who do not physically fight off the offender, and some minors — from abortion coverage by redefining rape. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) then introduced the “Protect Life Act,” a bill that would “give doctors the green light to let pregnant women die if they have a life-threatening condition and need an emergency abortion.”


“The Five Ways That The GOP Is Trying To Eradicate A Woman’s Right To Choose,” Tanya Somanader, Think Progress, February 5, 2011. http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/15/five-ways-eradicate-choice/

Student Researcher: Taylor Wright, Sonoma State University

Faculty Evaluator: Don Romesburg , Sonoma State University