Bill Authorizing Toxicology Tests for Infants Without Parental Consent Moves to Senate

Jan 24, 2018

Senator Deb Soholt (R) sponsored Senate Bill 105.
Credit SD Legislature

South Dakota lawmakers are weighing the issue of a mother's privacy over her infant's health. The debate begins in the Senate Health and Human Services committee.

Senate Bill 105 authorizes healthcare practitioners to test infants up to 28 days old for controlled substances if they exhibit relevant symptoms. The bill allows the test with or without parental consent. If results are positive, the practitioner must report them to the Department of Social Services. 

Proponents of the bill includes healthcare lobbyists and current practitioners. They say the legislation allows for better care of infants who can't speak for themselves. There was no opposing testimony.

During committee questions, Senator Neal Tapio says he's concerned for a mother's right against self-incrimination. 

"What we don't want to do is to be able to have a mother make a decision that she doesn't want to go to the hospital because of some sort of ramification. So it's a very delicate issue," Senator Tapio says.

The debate raises the question of drug addiction and trauma for Senator Kevin Killer. He says removing an infant form the home doesn't solve the root problem of addiction. 

Senator Deb Soholt is chair of the committee and the sponsor of the bill. She acknowledges the tension between infant health and parental privacy, bust says the priority should lie with the infant. She also recognizes the need for further action against addiction. 

"The intention is to do an assessment, and to help provide support for the family, and healing to the infant," Senator Soholt says. "So it's a very small bite out of a large apple." 

The bill moves on to the senate floor with a six to one vote.