Governor Kristi Noem is introducing a bill that bans abortions on fetuses with Down Syndrome.
Critics of the legislation say it adds another ‘undue burden’ for pregnant women in South Dakota.
The bill prevents doctors from performing an abortion if a woman wants the procedure because the fetus has Down Syndrome.
Governor Noem made the announcement during her State of the State address.
A doctor could be found guilty of a class 6 felony for performing the operation.
“This bill would prevent doctors from knowingly performing abortions because of a diagnosis with Down Syndrome,” Noem says. “So, specifically, if that diagnosis is given and the doctor knowingly performs that abortion because of that diagnosis it would have a punishment for them.”
South Dakota’s only abortion clinic provides the procedure up to 13 weeks and 6 days into a pregnancy. However, tests for fetal anomalies such as Down Syndrome typically don’t happen until after the 15th week of pregnancy.
The state does not track abortions on fetuses with Down Syndrome. According to Department of Health statistics, in 2019 seven abortions were performed with the “presence of fetal abnormality.”
Kristin Hayward works for Planned Parenthood in Minnesota and the Dakotas.
She says a decision about abortion should be between a pregnant woman, her faith leader, doctor and family.
Hayward says the bill is designed to create headlines for Governor Noem, who is considering a 2024 presidential campaign.
“There should be no exploitation of the disabled community to push a longstanding agenda that Kristi Noem has, or the legislature in South Dakota has,” Hayward says. “That’s what this whole thing is about, is pushing that agenda forward and moving toward increased visibility for her.”
Hayward says Governor Noem’s bill does not invest in the lives of South Dakotans with disabilities. Instead, it creates another restriction for pregnant women in the state.