South Dakota Seeks to Force Women Into Crisis Pregnancy Centers

[Excerpted  from RH Reality Check. Read the full article here.]

South Dakota is no stranger to the fight to keep abortion safe and legal for women who choose to terminate a pregnancy: The state’s voters overwhelmingly voted to keep abortion legal in 2006 and 2008. Yet 27 state representatives and 11 state senators are once again trying to restrict access to abortion in a state that already has the most stringent restrictions in the country.

House Bill 1217 is:

An Act to establish certain legislative findings pertaining to the decision of a pregnant mother considering termination of her relationship with her child by an abortion, to establish certain procedures to better insure that such decisions are voluntary, uncoerced, and informed, and to revise certain causes of action for professional negligence relating to performance of an abortion.

I’m sure everyone on both sides of this issue can agree that every decision to have an abortion should be made voluntarily and uncoerced. Of course women should be informed of the risks–but what type of risks can be associated with abortion is the question. Buried in HB 1217 it states:

That prior to the day of any scheduled abortion the pregnant mother must have a consultation at a pregnancy help center at which the pregnancy help center shall inform her about what education, counseling, and other assistance is available to help the pregnant mother keep and care for her child, and have a private interview to discuss her circumstances that may subject her decision to coercion.  That prior to signing a consent to an abortion, the physician shall first obtain from the pregnant mother a written statement that she obtained a consultation with a pregnancy help center, which sets forth the name and address of the pregnancy help center, the date and time of the consultation, and the name of the counselor at the pregnancy help center with whom she consulted.

You read that correctly: Women wanting an abortion will be forced to visit pregnancy help centers–otherwise known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). Many of these centers are not regulated by a government agency and are routinely staffed by volunteers who lack any type of training.

The bill also defines a pregnancy help center such that it is virtually impossible for a pro-choice organization to establish one. From HB 1217:

The pregnancy help center has a facility or office in the state of South Dakota in which it routinely consults with women for the purpose of helping them keep their relationship with their unborn children; that one of its principal missions is to educate, counsel, and otherwise assist women to help them maintain their relationship with their unborn children; that they do not perform abortions at their facility, and have no affiliation with any organization or physician which performs abortions; that they do not now refer pregnant women for abortions, and have not referred any pregnant women for an abortion at any time in the three years immediately preceding July 1, 2011.

“Good people can disagree on the issue of abortion,” says Ben Nesselhuf, Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, “but the people of South Dakota have made it clear, twice, where they stand on this issue. At a time when we are facing a budget crisis, the legislature should be focusing on more important issues.”

The South Dakota legislators who have attached their names to this bill do not care about women, they only seek to make decisions for them. HB 1217 isn’t about making sure women receive informed consent before obtaining an abortion; they only want to make sure they can’t have one.

Read the full article at RH Reality Check.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.