South Dakota Right to Life blamed for blocking new ‘life of the mother’ exemption in abortion ban
GOP legislators voice frustration over opposition from ‘pro-life’ camp
South Dakota’s first lawmaking session following the overturn of the Roe v. Wade decision has been mostly void of debate around abortion policy — but only in the public eye.
Behind the scenes, it’s been a different story. Heavy opposition from South Dakota Right to Life has stalled efforts by a group of female Republican legislators to clarify what’s know as a “life of the mother” exception to South Dakota’s abortion ban.
With a week left to go in the state’s 98th Legislative session, there’s been just one contentious abortion-related bill filed — and it never saw debate. Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt in early February shelved a bill she crafted to more clearly permit abortions when a pregnancy puts a mother in danger of death. And another run at similar legislation this week by Sen. Erin Tobin never came to fruition.
The 2005 trigger law that banned abortion in the event Roe was ever overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court contained an exemption permitting abortions if “there is appropriate and reasonable medical judgment that performance of an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female.” But medical professionals say the existing statute is too vague.
Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday morning entered the meeting expecting to advance legislation that aimed at clearing it up. The plan was to gut a bill sent to them from the House and instead insert language to allow pregnancies to be terminated if necessary to save the life of a mother.
But, like Rehfeldt’s, the Tobin legislation never got a thorough hearing — the nurse practitioner from Winner opted not to move her measure during the committee’s final meeting of the year.
And in both instances, the failure to bring the legislation to even a committee debate is blamed on a lack of support from South Dakota Right to Life, whose opposition is essentially a death sentence in the state’s GOP-dominated legislature
“They are the hold up,” Tobin told The Dakota Scout Wednesday morning. “We’ve worked eight months to try and get them on board, and we’re being delayed. It’s really difficult to understand.”
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