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Panel OKs ban on medical abortions outside facilities


A legislative review panel is greenlighting new abortion rules that prevent medical abortions, except in a licensed abortion facility.

The rule requires those seeking the medication to be informed so they can change their mind if they decide to carry the fetus to term. It also requires the patient to return for a third, follow-up appointment.

Senator Tim Johns voted against approving the rule change in December, which stalled efforts. He voted in favor of the proposed rule this time.

“I’m troubled by it. I truly am troubled,” Johns says. “I’m highly reluctant to ever intervene when it comes to decisions when it comes to patients and doctors. I think we’re getting too close, anymore. I’ll let it go at that.”

Critics say the third visit is not medically necessary.

The change comes following an executive order by Governor Kristi Noem, which bans telemedicine abortions.

Some are concerned the change usurps the legislative process, with rule changes coming from the executive branch by executive order. Supporters say the Department of Health has the authority to bring the changes, saying it follows legislative intent.

Governor Kristi Noem says she plans to work with the legislature to pass bills that make the changes permanent.

In 2020, about40 percent of abortions in South Dakota were induced by medication.

There is only one abortion clinic in the state.

The FDA has relaxed restrictions that require a pregnant person to pick up abortion pills in person.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.