It’s been nearly three months since Republicans swept to victory in the House of Representatives and state offices across the country. Prior to being elected, many touted their fiscal responsibility and promised to address the country’s budgetary issues and create new jobs.

In the months since being elected, however, Republicans in the House have focused not on creating jobs and stimulating the economy, but stripping programs for women and children of much needed funding.

From the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood, to ending Title X funding, Republicans have been clear about their agenda: Making access to abortions and health care that much more difficult for the women who need it most. A strict new law enacted in South Dakota proves, once again, many are looking to strip women of their right to choose.

Yesterday, South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard signed a new bill into law that would require women to wait 72-hours and visit a pregnancy crisis center before obtaining an abortion. Although these requirements seem innocuous, women in South Dakota already have to endure week-long waits (or more) to consult with a doctor and obtain an abortion because there is only one clinic that provides abortions in the state and the doctor has to be flown in from another state.

South Dakota has the lowest abortion rate in the country. Previous restrictions—a 24-hour waiting period and mandating that women be offered the opportunity to view a sonogram of the fetus—have kept abortion rates low. According to Politico, “The local Planned Parenthood affiliate estimates that 0.1 percent of abortions nationwide are performed in the state and, of the 707 abortions performed in 2007, 94.9 percent of the procedures were performed during the first trimester.”

But the numbers do not tell the whole story. Many women in South Dakota—one out of seven—leave the state to obtain an abortion.

According to Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, “Women have become very adept at navigating these obstacles. Not that they should have to, but they have. This data says to me that, women are leaving … between the combination of restriction and access, the climate has become very hostile.”

From Texas to Ohio, and all points in between America’s vast coasts, anti-abortion activists are working hard to strip women of their rights. I find it curious that the same people who abhor government intrusion on one hand, want the government to be involved in a one of a woman’s most intimate relationships—her relationship with her physician.

But as women have always done, we make a way, and the women of South Dakota are no different. However, with increasingly hostile anti-abortion legislation being introduced throughout the country, those of us who value a woman’s right to choose should stay vigilant so that our rights stay intact.

What do you think about the slew of anti-abortion laws that are being introduced this year? Should women be alarmed? You tell us!


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  • Miss B

    Yes, one clinic in SD…yes we are now a black hole for abortion access in the US. We now have the most restricted abortion laws in the country. BUT, there are people here who want to protect women’s access to abortion in SD!

    In 2006 & 2008 SD voters shot down Abortion Bans & we’ll fight this outrageous new bill that violates a woman’s right to privacy & is a slap in the face of woman’s rights in general.

    Please, send your support to those of us in SD that will stand up for Reproductive Freedom!


  • The sad dirty little secret in these rural states is that these unwanted pregnancies are due to incest (the novel The Cider House Rules, set in Maine (and FAR more graphic than the movie), was based on this unfortunate “way of life”

  • Catca

    I find it curious that the article’s author acts as though having a low abortion rate is a bad thing. Having access to an abortion made difficult is a different thing than having a low abortion rate. The point of the article is that abortions in South Dakota are being made exceedingly difficult to obtain and women have been forced to go to neighboring states for their medical care. A legitimate issue that needs to be talked about more along with many issues in our health care system (for ex. children on medicaid who need a pediatric specialist can only go a specialist in their own state and have it covered by Medicaid – however, in states that lack pediatric specialists (basically any state without a very large city), these children have no access to specialist medical care as their parents cannot afford to travel to another state and pay out of pocket. Inequities in our health care system abound, and the issue faced by the women in South Dakota is one of them. HOWEVER, a drop in abortion rates is not in itself an issue of concern and frankly should be more something to be celebrated as long as that drop is due to things like greater access to contraception and responsible behavior among sexually active adults and not because women are having a difficult time getting access to an abortion.