South Dakota Judge Continues to Block Medication Abortion Restriction
Last night’s decision blocks a law that would have eliminated medication abortion access in the state
Sioux Falls, SD — Late last night, a federal district court judge granted a preliminary injunction against a regulation that would have effectively eliminated access to medication abortion in South Dakota. The rule, created by the South Dakota Department of Health at the direction of Gov. Kristi Noem, was previously blocked by a temporary restraining order, granted in January at the request of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of South Dakota.
“We are relieved that South Dakotans can still access medication abortion,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “Medication abortion is safe, common and essential health care. It is imperative that every person who decides that an abortion is the best decision for them are able to access the care they need, when they need it. South Dakotans deserve the right to make their own personal decisions about their lives and futures.”
South Dakota already forces patients to wait an unnecessary minimum of 72 hours before an abortion, excluding weekends and holidays, which requires patients to make two trips to the health center. The new regulation would mandate an unnecessary third visit for patients seeking a medication abortion — which imposes significant barriers to accessing care and is contrary to the standard of care and the recommendations of leading national and state medical organizations.
“Last night’s ruling demonstrates that the court fully understands the harmful and immediate effects this regulation would have on South Dakotans,” said Stephanie Amiotte, ACLU of South Dakota legal director. “Access to health care is a basic human right, and every person deserves to have control over their own bodies, lives and futures. For people concerned about the legislature’s attempts to block their access to medical care, this ruling sends a clear message: medication abortion is safe and should remain accessible to all South Dakotans without undue burdens imposed by politicians. We will continue to challenge efforts contrary to our right to make our own medical care decisions."
In the ruling, the federal district court found that the new regulation requirements are medically unnecessary, impose unecessary medical risks, and amount to a substantial obstacle for patients seeking medication abortion. The court also rejected the State’s argument that the regulation’s overarching purpose was patient health, noting that the FDA, an entity the State cited as authoritative on the subject, states that there is no medical reason for the challenged requirements under the regulation.
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, 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.
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 28 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, through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.