The confusing story of emergency contraception access

As many of you may have heard, the world of emergency contraception (EC) access is getting rather complicated. We’re going to do our best to break it down for you. Hold on to your hats, campers.

In the beginning, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a recommendation that emergency contraceptives should be sold over the counter, without restrictions. But then the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overturned that recommendation (something that had never been done before), retracting the FDA’s support of universal access to EC.

Then along came Judge Edward R. Korman (he’s awesome) who made a ruling in April that all emergency contraceptives should be available over-the-counter, without restrictions – just like the original recommendation from the FDA.

He said let there be access, and it was good. But the FDA no longer supported the unrestricted access.

So then the FDA, under the orders of the administration, appealed the decision by Judge Korman, and the issue was sent to the next level of the courts, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s review the progression so far (yay flow chart):

FDA recommendation –> Secretary Sebelius overturns FDA recommendation –> Judge Korman ruling –> FDA appeals Judge Korman’s ruling –> issue sent to 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals

So that’s how the issue of emergency contraception access ended up at the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals.

Now this past Wednesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan made a ruling on some forms of emergency contraceptives, determining that they be available over the counter immediately and without restrictions.

So that’s the good news – but unfortunately, it gets further complicated from there.

Seriously, prepare to be confused.

Amid the ongoing drama from the FDA, Secretary Sebelius and the courts, the current status of emergency contraceptives access is as follows:

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has permitted two-pill versions of emergency contraception to be sold over the counter, without restrictions. That includes the original Plan B and any generic two-pill forms of contraception.

Now, as for Plan B One Step, which mirrors the effects of the original two-pill Plan B except in a convenient one-pill dosage, it still remains in the limbo of the appeals court and remains available only for women ages 15 and older who can prove their age with an official form of ID. Which is problematic, since many states don’t issue learner’s permits or driver’s licenses until age 16. So they’re asking for forms of ID that many young girls won’t have access to, making it so they then can’t access the emergency contraception.

Every other generic form of emergency contraception that involves only one pill is available over the counter to women 17 and older who can prove their age with an official form of ID.

It is yet unclear why the different pill forms have been distinguished from each other, since they offer the exact same result, just in fewer steps. Although, obviously simplicity in access is not an underlying goal here.

In summary, as of Wednesday emergency contraception access is as follows:

Form of Emergency Contraception

Number of Pills

Accessibility

ID Required?

Plan B

••

everyone

no

generics

••

everyone

no

Plan B One Step

ages 15 and older

yes

generics

ages 17 and older

yes

BUT the federal administration (cough, Secretary Sebelius, cough) has two weeks from yesterday to  decide whether it will appeal the two-pill ruling (keep in mind that they are still currently in the appeals process for the one-pill forms). If the FDA does additionally appeal the two-pill ruling then it will go to either a full review by the 2nd Circuit Court or directly to the Supreme Court.

Of course, in South Dakota all of this could make no difference if your pharmacist refuses to distribute emergency contraception, which they can do under current state law.

For help dealing with that, look for a copy of our recently updated Emergency Contraception Pamphlet for information on which pharmacies do carry emergency contraception in the state. Or request one by emailing us at jenny@prochoicesd.org.

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Find more information on the ongoing emergency contraception drama here: from Mother Jones or from Huffington Post.

Choice Out Loud causes “controversy” and campus-wide sexuality discussion

We recently finished up our launch academic year of the Choice Out Loud (COL) campaign on three South Dakota campuses: the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State, and Augustana College. We had three interns, one from each campus, that represented NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota and brought COL to their campus. These ladies have worked hard for us in the past nine months, and we are grateful for the foundation they laid for the COL program, and we are excited to see where they will go in the future.

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From left to right: Executive Director Alisha Sedor and Choice Out Loud interns Amy Dahl and Libby Trammell.

Throughout the academic year these three have hosted documentaries, rallies with pro-choice legislators, pro-choice bingo nights, along with participating in our annual Lobby Day and Pro-Chocolate fundraiser. They have been essential in expanding our contact with the pro-choice, millennial students who are ready to be more vocal in the fight for reproductive choice.

The campus where we made the most noise was at Augustana. Without a women’s rights or reproductive advocacy group on campus in recent years, we created quite a stir by tabling about comprehensive sex education and handing out condoms each week.

After sitting at the Valentine’s Day dinner on campus, our intern and table made the front page of the campus newspaper (the full article is transcribed below). And although the table was described as a “blemish” we are proud to have the campus discussing an issue that it hadn’t approached in awhile, if ever.

We were also encouraged by a great quote from Campus Pastor Paul Rohde. He said, “I’m certainly in favor of people having good information about healthy sex. I think sexuality is a gift of God and can be discussed. And should be discussed.”

The article also prompted a sexuality discussion held by a campus theater group, the Social Justice League. Our work had sparked a truly campus-wide discussion on sexuality, and we consider that a success and testament to our visibility work.

We are looking forward to starting campus groups at USD and Augustana in the fall, as well as continuing our work on the SDSU campus.

Please read the front page article about our tabling, as it appeared in The Augustana Mirror, below:

Condoms Cause Controversy

by Sarah Kocher (sakocher12@ole.augie.edu)

Students who dined in the Commons on Feb. 14 found themselves in the presence of condoms as well as condiments.

The Valentine’s Day meal for many students meant time with special someones, prime rib and a chocolate fountain. For others, however, the student-run table set up near the Commons’ exit was a blemish on an otherwise delightful dinner.

Senior Amy Dahl wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary when she checked out a table for that Thursday night. Dahl interns at NARAL, a national pro-choice reproductive health advocacy group. Dahl and other students staffed a table that provided students with condoms, candy, pens, sticky notes, safe sex pamphlets and information about reproductive health.

Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) president senior Kadyn Wittman helped to staff the table, but not on behalf of GSA.

“It was not a GSA-affiliated event,” she said, and Dahl concurs. Dahl approached Wittman about helping on a personal level, and the topic was broached at a GSA meeting one night before the event. Members could participate – or choose not to participate – at their own volition.

Dahl and Wittman have passed out condoms and pamphlets about reproductive health on campus before and admit that at no point have they been well-received.

“I was called a whore and a slut and a baby killer and told I was going to hell,” Dahl said. The “baby killer” comment was voiced by a professor, she added.

“I was told by a few people that…’I need to return to my Christian values,” Wittman said.

But neither Dahl nor Wittman believe that discussions about God and sex have to be mutually exclusive. Wittman said people should not act like students aren’t having sex simply because Augustana is a Christian school.

“I’ve seen what happens at parties and I’ve seen people leave together at parties,” Wittman said. “To ignore that seems hypocritical. Turning a blind eye and acting like this doesn’t happen doesn’t equal Christian values.”

Dahl agrees. “Christianity is never about ‘Shut up, you can’t talk about that,’” Dahl said.

Campus Pastor Paul Rohde echoes Dahl’s sentiment. “I’m certainly in favor of people having good information about healthy sex,” he said. “I think sexuality is a gift of God and can be discussed. And should be discussed.”

However, Rohde suggested groups like NARAL and students who hand out information should remember that abstinence should be offered as a kind of safe sex along with other advocated methods.

“[Sex] shouldn’t be a taboo subject,” Dahl said. She thinks teens are having sex younger and younger, and if it’s a taboo subject, “we’re just being foolish about it.” She set up the table in the Commons with the goal of empowering the younger generation to make decisions about their own bodies.

Dahl admits she didn’t receive any education about sex or reproductive health at a young age. Her parents never had “the talk” with her, and she didn’t know about sex until she was forced to learn.

“I applied [for the NARAL internship] because I was raped when I was 16, and that’s how I experienced sex. Who knows what could have been different, had I known?”

However, while Rohde advocated proper information, he also admitted that he has questions about the choice of setting for the distribution of this material. “Is that helpful venue on a conversation about safe sex?” he said.

This questions is one the Augustana’s administration has particularly been struggling with, but less because of the content than how it was dispersed.

“The controversy is really not that there’s something wrong with the group,” Associate Dead of Students Jim Bies said. Indeed, part of what Augustana advocates in its student handbook is the freedom of inquiry and expression. “[This incident] serves as a very good reminder that the reason students go to college is to become engaged in topics as a learning issue,” Bies said.

The student handbook itself states that, “Student and student organizations are free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and express opinions publicly and privately.” The problem, then, is not the content, Bies said, but that the group was invited outside of procedures.

Dahl checked out the table as usual, she said, admitting to the administrative personnel in charge of such interactions that NARAL was not a student organization, but that GSA agreed to partner with NARAL so that a student-run booth could be set up. Approval was granted.

But “GSA had nothing to do with the event, and that’s a problem,” Bies said. Because of the outside organization, approval should have been granted directly to NARAL in a different way. Bies said approval would not have been granted had the proper procedures been executed because dining services worked so hard on a meal that was then disrupted and distracted from..

The NARAL table in the dining hall “added a little lightning to the jar,” Bies said.

According to Bies, the trusting set of procedures are being reviewed and the administration is now drafting proposed changes, which will be brought before ASA to ensure that students are involved in the decision-making process.

And many students want to have a say. Wittman and Bies break the student body into thirds based on their perceived responses regarding NARAL’s booth.

One third said that the table was upsetting and inappropriate. Another third offered no acknowledgement or made a joke out of the situation: “We saw condoms stuck on doorknobs across campus. Condoms strewn here and there,” Bies said. The last third saw it as a non-issue or were in favor of the motivations of the students working the table.

Freshman Christian Einertson admitted he had been very vocal about the event, placing himself in the first third of student, those upset by the disruption.

“[The booth] was pretty much blocking the exit,” he said. “It was hard to get past if you didn’t want to participate.”

Einertson said that the conversation promoted by the table was not one students should be having at all. According to Einertson, NARAL was “handing out something that would cause other people to sin.”

Dahl sees it a bit differently.

“God made sex for marriage,” she said. “Our generation breaks that, and I think that breaks God’s heart, but he recognizes that we’re all sinners.”

“Who do we think we are to declare what is or is not okay with God, or to cast judgment?” Dahl said. Instead, when all things are said and done, “I’m trying to love my neighbors by making them aware.”

For more information on student rights and freedoms, visit the student handbook online at www/augie.edu/campuslife/dean-students-office/student-handbook/student-handbook-table-table-contents.

Susan B. Anthony trusted women

susan-b-anthony-writing-600x350Susan B. Anthony was a passionate activist for women’s rights. She proposed the 19th Amendment to give women the right to vote. She fought so women would have the right to earn an education. She maintained that women deserved better pay and the right to retain their earnings. She believed that women should be able to own property. Susan B. Anthony trusted women. She was definitely a feminist, if not the feminist of her time.

Anthony felt strongly that women needed to right to vote so that politicians would listen to them.

Wait – politicians listen to women? That’s a dream of hers that often still isn’t realized!

But what’s worse, is that her name is being used to brand an anti-choice group with an extreme anti-women agenda: the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA).

NARAL Pro-Choice America and Bridge Project just released a new report exposing the Susan B. Anthony List’s extreme anti-choice agenda for the 2013 and 2014 election cycles. And let me tell you, the legislators they are trying to elect and the legislation they are backing is bad for women.

SBA ListSo here’s a short list of what SBA List wants to do:

–defund Planned Parenthood

–enact extreme anti-choice legislation to ban abortion, support forced ultrasounds, and deny access to birth control

support Todd Akin (“legitimate rape”) and Richard Mourdock (“pregnancy from rape is a gift from God”)

–become an anti-choice “political machine” (like the NRA)

Theirs goals are dangerous; threatening to strip women of bodily autonomy and dignity.

For Anthony, who fought tirelessly for the expansion of women’s rights, it seems disrespectful and deceptive to associate her name with a group working toward the exact opposite goal – to diminish women’s rights and the authority that women have over their own bodies. Anthony believed that women should have custody rights to their children, but there is no evidence that she opposed the right to abortion. That’s why we need to stand up for women against this group – to honor the true, feminist legacy of Susan B. Anthony.

Click here to take the pledge to stop Susan B. Anthony List and their extreme anti-woman agenda.

Click here to read what NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue has to say about SBA List.

Lessons from the Gosnell trial

After 10 days of deliberation, the jury tasked with weighing more than 250 charges in the capital murder trial of Kermit Gosnell handed down its verdicts today.

Gosnell has been found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder, for the deaths of three babies, and on one count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Karnamaya Mongar, a woman who died in his clinic after an anesthesia overdose during an abortion in 2009. There are other convictions as well, including infanticide and conspiracy.

Gosnell’s trial began in late March and sparked an anti-choice frenzy – they are out to convince people that Gosnell is the reason why abortion should be outlawed.

But please, don’t be fooled. That is far from the truth of the matter.

It is true that the details of what happened in the West Philadelphia clinic operated by 72-year-old Kermit Gosnell are horrific – absolutely stomach-churning.

However, abortion itself is not the danger. The danger is the circumstances under which Gosnell was allowed to practice – unsafe, unregulated, appalling medical conditions – and the reasons why women went to an unsafe clinic and kept silent about their mistreatment.

The true lessons to be learned from the horrible clinic and Gosnell’s trial are about access and shame.

Access

The fact is, when it comes to abortions in the country, a clinic like Gosnell’s is the exception and not the rule – but outlawing abortion entirely would quickly reverse that.

The procedures Gosnell performed were not legal abortions protected under Roe v. Wade, but rather late-term abortions past the 24-week cutoff for legal abortions in Pennsylvania. The Women’s Medical Society, his facility, wasn’t inspected for 17 years and complaints were ignored. The conditions were only discovered as the result of a federal drug raid.

These crimes did not happen because abortion is legal, rather, they happened because safe, affordable abortion wasn’t accessible and the facility and doctor were not held accountable for ensuring the medical safety of patients.

Low-income women, especially those of color, represented the majority of the patients at the Women’s Medical Society clinic. These women had limited funds and felt that they had no where else to go. They were at the last stop, the final destination. So even if Gosnell was compromising their dignity and their safety, he was also providing their escape. He was the only one providing an abortion that they could afford.

Abortion, for those who would struggle to travel to a clinic and pay for the procedure, is only as legal as their means to obtain it. South Dakota faces this reality every day as one of the four states (along with North Dakota, Arkansas and Mississippi) with only one clinic providing abortion services. Where do the women who can’t make it to a clinic, or women who can’t afford a procedure, turn? In this case, they turned to Kermit Gosnell – and he did nothing but take advantage of them and mistreat their bodies. If there had been another option for these women, maybe his clinic wouldn’t have been so busy.

Shame

In an article about Gosnell’s victims on philly.com, there is a particularly powerful quote: “Abortion, some say, carries such a stigma that they were too ashamed to report their alleged mistreatment.”

The anti-choice movement has managed to create such a stigma of shame around abortion that women are allowing themselves to be horribly mistreated and they never report it.

One patient said that she didn’t want to report what happened and be “treated like trash.”

This shame from making the medical decision of abortion is a direct result of politicizing the procedure. It draws lines that divide us and strip away empathy in favor of judgment and condemnation.

In this sense, it was Gosnell who committed the crimes, but society that forced his victims underground afterwards.

These woman, his victims, were so certain that they would be condemned for seeking an abortion that they would receive no help, no comfort and no support, even in face of this doctor’s nightmarish practices.

The acts described in the testimony for Gosnell’s trial put him and his clinic in the same column with pre-Roe v. Wade back-alley abortions. And adding to the horror of the actual operations is the fact that women felt as though Gosnell represented their only option – their last chance to affect change in their own lives.

Without access to safe, legal abortion women will compromise their safety and their dignity to find another means of terminating a pregnancy. That is what happened pre-Roe v. Wade. That is what happened in Gosnell’s clinic.

Women should never have to sacrifice their dignity or their safety to access abortion care. They should never be ashamed for making the right decision for themselves and their families – and that is exactly what the pro-choice movement is fighting for ­everyday.

Cheers to equality

Last week, NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota co-sponsored a happy hour with the Sioux Falls Center for Equality.

The point of this happy hour? To gather young professionals together who believe in reproductive choice and marriage equality.

NARAL Pro-Choice America has taken an official stance in support of marriage equality, and we as the South Dakota affiliate were proud to see our organization stand with another group – the LGBT community – that has been marginalized much as those who support reproductive choices often are.

At this event, pro-choice and pro-marriage equality activists came together in the name of equality and justice. At the informal sign-in table we had a poster that people could contribute to. We wanted to display some of the reasons why attendees are pro-choice and pro-marriage equality.

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The people gathered clearly believed that women (and men) are not only the masters of their own bodies, but also their own minds and emotions.

In case you can’t read them in the picture, here are the reasons listed on the poster:

I’m pro-choice and pro-marriage equality because…

my decisions are nobody’s business.

everyone should be able to make their own choices.

equality means understanding everyone is different!

let’s all let people be free to make choices about their own lives.

it’s my life, my choices, my right to be free from others’ religious beliefs.

it’s my body, my love. I give it to whom I want to.

medical decisions are personal and private.

equality only counts if everyone has it!

I don’t make choices for others.

If we can some together to support each other, than hopefully someday we will gather to celebrate, not just advocate.

Choice: There’s an app for that

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The app store – not exactly the first place you’d look to as a platform for the battle for reproductive rights and comprehensive sex education, but nevertheless these issues have found their way into the world of mini specialized programs. Found on mobile devices and tablets, apps are ultra accessible, downloading at the touch of a button, but they also put users at the mercy of the developers.

What kind of information is the app providing? What is the scope of the information?

We searched for apps that came up under “pro-choice,” “pro-life,” “abortion” and “sex education.” We found some programs that offered balanced, factual information, but we also found others that do nothing but lead women to crisis pregnancy centers and shame.

Here’s a brief breakdown of some of the best – and worst – apps that we found.

Best

Birdees

This bright, light-hearted app is an interactive sexual education tool for parents to teach children ages 2-8 about their bodies and sex. Using information from expert opinions and current scientific research, this virtual sex education experience facilitates communication and features age appropriate models. They are currently working on modules for ages 9-12 and 13-15.

SafeSex101

Produced by a division of the campus newspaper at UCLA, this app is chalk full of sexual definitions and lessons. The app lists the definitions of different contraceptives and locations where they can be found. While the location information isn’t helpful outside of the Los Angeles area, the other content is universal. The lessons include everything from how to put on a condom to talking to a provider and sexual consent.

Worst

OnlineForLife

This app is produced by the nonprofit Online For Life, and is meant to provide real-time alerts from crisis pregnancy centers that are affiliated with the app. Users are encouraged to join a prayer team that receives notifications when appointments are made at local crisis pregnancy centers, and they are notified when the center has “rescued” a baby. Users are also asked to make monetary donations.

standupgirl

From this app users can email or call a crisis pregnancy center from this app. The app also includes images of a developing fetus and newborns, videos about how to inform parents of a pregnancy, and a quiz to help determine if a woman is pregnant. The messaging is anti-choice. At the bottom of the images page it asks, “…Why is it when I wanted the baby – it was a baby, and when I didn’t – it was something else?”

And on it goes…

Alisha Sedor is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota.

This week, HB 1237, the legislation to exclude weekends and holidays from the already egregious 72-hour mandatory waiting period, was heard on the house floor.

The bill passed by a vote of 56-13 after a lengthy and heated debate. HB 1237 was on the agenda as part of Crossover Day, which is the last day for a bill to leave its chamber of origin. In other words, if it was introduced in the House first, it has to be voted on in the House and sent to the Senate by that day or the bill dies, and vice versa for those introduced in the Senate.

Crossover Day almost always proves to be a long day, and this was no exception with HB 1237 floor debate not even starting until 7:30pm CT. (You can listen here at 3:13:35)   Opposition was voiced by Reps. Peggy Gibson, Marc Feinstein, Paula Hawks and Karen Soli, each highlighting a different reason for voting against the bill.

As we all know, abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman to make. Politicians can’t know every woman’s circumstances and have no business inserting themselves into that decision making process. H.B.1237 allows for government interference into personal, private medical decisions that are best left to a woman, her family, her faith and the medical provider of her choice. We send our thanks to the legislators who recognized this voting against HB 1237 and speaking out in opposition on the House Floor.

HB 1237, House, Do Pass Amended

Bartling Yea Bolin Yea Cammack Yea
Campbell Yea Carson Yea Conzet Yea
Craig Yea Cronin Yea Dryden Nay
Duvall Yea Ecklund Yea Erickson Yea
Feickert Yea Feinstein Nay Gibson Nay
Greenfield Yea Haggar (Don) Yea Haggar (Jenna) Yea
Hajek Yea Hansen Yea Hawks Nay
Hawley Nay Heinemann (Leslie) Yea Heinert Excused
Hickey Yea Hoffman Yea Hunhoff (Bernie) Yea
Johns Nay Kaiser Yea Killer Nay
Kirschman Yea Kopp Yea Latterell Yea
Lust Yea Magstadt Yea May Nay
Mickelson Yea Miller Yea Munsterman Yea
Nelson Yea Novstrup (David) Yea Olson (Betty) Yea
Otten (Herman) Yea Parsley Nay Peterson Yea
Qualm Yea Rasmussen Yea Ring Yea
Romkema Nay Rounds Yea Rozum Yea
Russell Yea Schaefer Yea Schoenfish Yea
Schrempp Yea Sly Yea Soli Nay
Solum Yea Stalzer Yea Steele Yea
Stevens Yea Tulson Yea Tyler Yea
Verchio Yea Werner Yea Westra Yea
Wick Yea Wink Nay Wismer Nay
Gosch Yea
Ayes 56 Nays 13 Excused 1 Absent 0

HB 1237 received its first reading on the Senate floor yesterday, February 21, and was referred to the Senate State Affairs committee. The hearing will occur in the coming weeks, we hope our readers will reach out to committee members via phone and/or email and express opposition to HB 1237.

Rally in Pierre to protest HB 1237

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On Friday morning February 15, 2013 pro-choice advocates gathered on the steps of the state Capitol Building in Pierre to protest against House Bill 1237, which was up for discussion and vote in the House Judiciary Committee. HB 1237 redefines the state’s 72-hour mandatory delay and two-trip requirement by applying it only to business days—weekends and holidays are excluded from counting toward the three-day waiting period.

Representative Peggy Gibson and Senator Angie Buhl joined activists on the steps to show their support for killing the bill in the House committee. Rep. Gibson talked about how the bill opposes what South Dakota women believe about making decisions for their own bodies.

Holding handmade signs, advocates braved the chilly weather on the steps before heading inside to sit-in on the House Judiciary Committee meeting. After hearing testimony from both the bill proponents and opponents (including our executive director and an intern), the committee voted on whether or not to send HB 1237 to the House floor. Rep. Gibson attempted to kill the bill, but was unsuccessful. Unfortunately, the House Judiciary Committee voted to send the bill onward, with only Rep. Gibson and Rep. Killer voting against it (Rep. Feinstein was excused).

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HB 1237, House Judiciary, Do Pass Amended

Wink Yea Killer Nay Feinstein Excused
Gibson Nay Hoffman Yea Magstadt Excused
Kopp Yea Erickson Yea Stevens Yea
Johns Yea Hajek Yea Hansen Yea
Gosch Yea
Ayes 9 Nays 2 Excused 2 Absent 0

Anti-Choice South Dakota Legislators: Women Can’t Think on the Weekends?

Nick Wunder is a Policy Representative with NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Anti-choice politicians in South Dakota gained notoriety in 2011 by passing an extreme measure that forces a woman to submit to a state-mandated in-person lecture at an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center (CPC), wait 72 hours, and make three trips before getting abortion care.  Thankfully, a federal judge blocked the 2011 law from going into effect, but anti-choice state legislators keep trying to up the ante.  In 2012, they amended the law to make it even worse: now the law forces doctors to probe women about deeply personal topics, including her religious beliefs—even if against her will. Fortunately, again the courts enjoined it.

I didn’t think these anti-choice politicians could take it any further, but they proved me wrong.  Last week, South Dakota state Rep. Jon Hansen introduced HB 1237, a bill that would redefine the 72-hour forced delay to apply only to business days, so that weekends and holidays wouldn’t count toward the three-day waiting period. This demeaning bill assumes that women can make medical decisions that impact their lives only during business hours.  Apparently, on weekends and holidays women just can’t think for themselves.  It’s insulting.

This bill would put abortion care even further out of reach for women who already live in one of the most difficult states for reproductive-health services.  South Dakota has only one abortion provider, and in many cases, women must travel long distances for care.  It would have the worst effect on low-income women, rural women, and Native-American women, all of whom have the hardest time getting health-care services.  Facing a mandatory delay and a two-trip requirement, women also may need to take time off from work or school, and arrange for child care, transportation, and overnight stays.

I did the math:  in practice, this bill could mean delays of weeks.  Such a long waiting period could have serious consequences for women’s health, which we should all agree no one wants.  But apparently Rep. Hansen and his anti-choice allies don’t.

As NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota Executive Director Alisha Sedor points out, HB 1237 perpetuates “antiquated and sexist views of women…by implying that they are unable to make decisions about their reproductive health-care if it isn’t a business day.”

This tone-deaf measure fundamentally misreads where South Dakotans stand on government interference in citizens’ private lives.  And I should know—I grew up on a third-generation family farm in the northwestern corner of the state. South Dakotans understand that politicians have no business interfering with a woman’s private health-care decisions. But you don’t have to take my word for it: South Dakota voters have twice rejected abortion bans at the ballot box. Anti-choice politicians just don’t get it.

Maybe that’s why the Rapid City Journal selected HB1237 as the “Odd Bill of the Week.”

Oh, so women can’t think on weekends?

Alisha Sedor is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota.

They’re at it again. The South Dakota legislature has introduced HB 1237, a bill that will amend the previously passed 72-hour mandatory delay requirement. The new version would exclude weekends and holidays so they could not be counted as part of the 72-hours.

Accessing abortion in South Dakota is already extremely difficult, particularly for women located outside of the Sioux Falls area. In 2011, Vanessa Wellbery of NARAL Pro-Choice America and I produced a blog post about what a woman would have to go through if the new CPC visit and waiting period requirements go into effect.

Mandatory delay requirements re-enforce the erroneous suggestion that women do not think carefully about their healthcare, and that they are unable to make responsible decisions without governmental interference. This new legislation goes a step further by implying that women are incapable of making decisions about their reproductive healthcare unless it is a business day.

The bill is slated to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, February 11 at 10 a.m. We hope our readers contact their legislators to let them know you oppose this egregious legislation.