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South Dakota House approves longer abortion wait

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm •  Published: February 20, 2013

Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron, said the bill would severely restrict and possibly deny a woman's ability to get an abortion in South Dakota.

"The measure would force the state's only comprehensive women's health care clinic to discontinue providing abortion services, effectively banning abortion in South Dakota," Gibson said.

Gibson said lawmakers should remember that in two statewide votes in recent years, South Dakotans rejected measures that sought to ban nearly all abortions.

Hansen said the bill might have little effect because Planned Parenthood has a doctor at its Sioux Falls clinic only once a week, so women already have to wait a week or so to get an abortion after first meeting with a clinic doctor.

Hansen said there are about 740 abortions in South Dakota each year, an average of 14 a week. A pregnancy help center needs time to conduct those 14 counseling sessions each week, he said.

Rep. Karen Soli, D-Sioux Falls, a pastor, said she objects to the bill because it assumes pregnancy help centers will not help women on weekends.

"The suggestion that counselors appointed for this purpose cannot make time on weekends and holidays to help their neighbors make life and death decisions is offensive to me," Soli said.

Rep. Charlie Hoffman, R-Eureka, said the measure might make a woman spend two nights in a hotel waiting for an abortion, but the extra time for reflection and counseling might convince a woman to give birth and put the baby up for adoption.