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Tonight’s decision temporarily blocks a rule that would have eliminated medication abortion access in the state

Sioux Falls, SD — Today, a federal district court judge temporarily blocked a new rule from the South Dakota Department of Health, created at the direction of Gov. Kristi Noem, that would have effectively eliminated access to medication abortion in the state. The judge granted this temporary restraining order at the request of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of South Dakota in a case filed last week.

“We are relieved that South Dakotans’ access to medication abortion remains unchanged for right now,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “The rule’s proposed changes to medication abortion are completely unsupported by medicine and would place an immense burden on patients. Every person deserves the right to make their own decision about their body and their life. Medication abortion is safe and common, and South Dakotans deserve the freedom to make their own decisions about their health.”

South Dakota already forces patients to wait an unnecessary minimum of 72 hours before an abortion, which requires patients to make two trips to the health center. The new proposed rule would mandate an unnecessary third visit for patients seeking a medication abortion — a stipulation that could push access out of reach entirely for some patients. 

In the ruling, the federal district court found that “Planned Parenthood and its patients face irreparable harm” should the request for relief not be granted.

"Medication abortion remains legal and available for patients in South Dakota — for now. Today's ruling provides much needed, although temporary, relief for patients and providers in the state who will not be forced to comply with a medically unnecessary and truly burdensome law,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Anti-abortion politicians pushing through unconstitutional laws in states like South Dakota are showing no sign of slowing down — but Planned Parenthood will never back down when it comes to protecting our patients.”

“From the person living in a rural community hundreds of miles away from the only abortion provider in South Dakota to the patient who wants to access this essential care in the privacy and comfort of their home, this decision comes as a tremendous relief,” said Stephanie Amiotte, ACLU of South Dakota legal director. “This decision is critical progress, but when it comes to the right to control one's own private medical care in South Dakota it’s far from complete. We will continue to take action to protect our right to make our own medical care decisions, including reproductive decisions, which should not be decided by politicians. Choosing our own medical care is a fundamental right that belongs to all of us, regardless of where we live, how much money we make or the color of our skin.”

The temporary restraining order is in effect until February 9, 2022. A hearing on the plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motion is scheduled for next Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the ACLU of South Dakota, and Michael Drysdale at Dorsey & Whitney on behalf of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) and their Medical Director, Dr. Sarah Traxler, MD.


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.