This past legislative session, we introduced our first piece of proactive legislation: pregnancy and breastfeeding accommodations for women in the workplace. This bill failed to make it out of a committee of all men. We also saw three bills targeted at women seeking abortion care and abortion care providers, with the intent of further restricting access. NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota was present full time in Pierre working towards a future that enables women and their families, and fighting back against multiple attempts to limit women's access to essential reproductive healthcare.
HB 1120: Create protections and accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in their places of employment.
Our position: This is the second year that this bill was brought before our legislative body, but the first year NARAL SD carried it. The bill was deferred to the 41st day in committee, despite testimony provided from a business owner, an OBGYN, and NARAL SD's Executive Director's personal experience with a lack of appropriate accommodations in her own pregnancy. No woman should ever have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and her job. Yet, in South Dakota, our lawmakers continue to prioritize business owners' bottom lines over the backbones of workers and their families.
SB 102: Require that the name and telephone number of an organization fighting sex trafficking be given, in writing, to any woman seeking abortion.
Our position: While the insinuation that women seeking abortion care are likely victims of sex trafficking is insulting, this bill does not inflict any actual harm or undue burden on women seeking abortions. It also does very little to solve the very real problem of sex trafficking in South Dakota. NARAL did not oppose this bill, however, we urge our legislators to pass future legislation that puts a meaningful effort at ending sex trafficking in our state.
HB 1101: Increase the penalty for providing an abortion of an unborn child capable of feeling pain.
Our position: This bill increased the penalty for performing an abortion after 22 weeks gestation from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. There is no credible scientific evidence that proves fetuses experience pain before 28 weeks gestation. Increasing the penalty for doctors who are already barred from performing an abortion at this point in a pregnancy does nothing to curtail the number of second trimester abortions in South Dakota. It does, however, discourage medical professionals from choosing to plant their careers in South Dakota. Our state is already in dire need of doctors, and this bill sends a clear message to potential much needed rural docs: our citizen legislature knows better than you do.
HB 1189: Prohibit dismemberment abortions and provide a penalty therefore.
Our position: NARAL SD recognized this as our biggest battle and greatest victory in Pierre in almost a decade. This bill would have effectively banned the safest method of second trimester abortions, known as D&E procedures. This bill's passage would have had serious medical implications for doctors doing their best to provide care for their patients, and by doing so, endangered the health of women in South Dakota. Additionally, this bill was unconstitutional. NARAL SD worked closely with doctors, women who have had this procedure, and our base of activists to reach our lawmakers. This bill's failure to pass made a clear statement to the bill's sponsor: South Dakotans trust women and their doctors to make the best decisions about their own healthcare.