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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 of 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.

About Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood North Central States and its subsidiary organizations provide, promote, and protect reproductive and sexual health through high quality care, education and advocacy. A member of America’s most trusted reproductive health care provider, our affiliate is proud to support and operate 30 health centers across our five-state region (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota).  Each year, we provide health care to nearly 115,000 people and health education to more than 55,000 people in our region.


About the ACLU of South Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.