On Monday, Senate committee lawmakers in South Dakota rejected Republican Rep. Steven Haugaard's ban on all drugs used in medical abortions but allowed Republican Gov. Kristi Noem's pro-life legislation that requires misoprostol, which is used in a medical abortion, to be dispensed only in person at Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls.
According to Argus Leader, Rep. Haugaard's measure called House Bill 1208 had gone through some revisions after critics opposed earlier versions of the bill that excluded alternate uses for drugs that are commonly used in chemical abortions, such as miscarriage management.
However, Rep. Haugaard's proposed abortion ban measure encountered a roadblock at hte Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing on Monday morning.
H.B. 1208 went through the House Floor last week, with revisions that allowed for the alternate uses of mifegyne, mifeprex, mifepristone, and "any other pharmaceutically equivalent drug," "unless the drug is to be used for a purpose other than abortion."
During last Tuesday's House session, Rep. Haugaard argued that the pro-life bill was meant to criminalize medical professionals who perform chemical abortions and finally end the "horrific procedure" that is killing children. Unfortunately, H.B. 1208 did not make it through the Senate committee hearing.
Another pro-life bill, did however. Gov. Noem's pro-life measure that requires abortion medications to be dispensed in person, had passed through Senate committee lawmakers. Thus, it makes it more difficult for patients to access such drugs because it requires them to physically be present at the clinic to receive them.
Abortion rights activists decried Gov. Noem's pro-life bill, which they believe avoids the alternate uses debate in Section 5, which defined medical abortion as a "procedure that uses medication to intentionally terminate the life of a human being in the uterus, and does not mean a procedure for the management of a miscarriage."
But the recent Senate vote is the final hurdle that Gov. Noem's proposed measure faces in the Legislature, ABC News reported. The Republican leader has campaigned for the approval of the bill out of concern for women's safety.
"What we have seen is that those medicines could be accessed by telephone or the internet between a stranger and someone who is wanting an abortion," Gov. Noem explained during a news conference last week. This comes after the FDA last year decided to permanently allow abortion pills by mail, broadening access to chemical abortions.
The National Review reported that this week, the Guttmacher Institute released a new report revealing that more than half of abortions in the U.S. are now chemical abortions. Most states are not required to report abortion data to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which is why it would be difficult to find accurate data. But the Guttmacher Institute gathers data by directly contacting abortion providers.
The new report found that abortions carried out through the abortion pill accounted for up to 54% of abortions in the U.S. in 2020, a major increase from the 44% in 2019. Factors that may have contributed to the uptick in chemical abortions include the COVID pandemic and the FDA's lifting of restrictions on abortion pill access.