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Second attempt to clarify only abortion exception halted


Multiple efforts to clarify the state’s only abortion exception have stalled as lawmakers near the end of session.

The clarifications were opposed by the state’s preeminent anti-abortion group.

The exception in state law is to preserve the life of the mother. Health officials say the law is unclear.

State Senator Erin Tobin
Johnny Sundby Photography
SD Legislative Research Council
State Senator Erin Tobin

An effort to clarify the law by Republican Representative Taylor Rehfeldt was tabled earlier this session.

Republican State Senator Erin Tobin is a certified nurse practitioner. She abandoned a last-minute attempt to clarify the law on Wednesday.

That’s because South Dakota Right To Life has opposed to the efforts. The group is declining to comment.

On a separate bill, Tobin asked group Executive Director Dale Bartscher if there's a place in the future to look at clarifying health of the mother.

“Right to life definitely will continue to collaborate with anyone on the issues of protection of the mother and the baby in the mother’s womb,” Bartscher said.

“Wonderful, it seems like it’s a very high priority in this statement. I’ll be expecting further work on that,” Tobin responded.

Both Rehfeldt and Tobin say they’ll work on language to clarify the only exception to the state’s abortion law over the summer.

"South Dakota Right to Life needs to get on board, or we will become another Kansas, and lose our Pro-life battle in a landslide vote by the people," Tobin said on Twitter.

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.
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