SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by Planned Parenthood aims to prevent the state of South Dakota from implementing a new rule for medical abortions that would make the state one of the hardest places in the nation to get abortion pills.
The rule approved by lawmakers earlier this month requires women to return to a doctor to receive the second of two drugs used to carry out a medication abortion. Usually women receive both drugs in one visit, taking the second medication at home. The regulation is expected to go into effect later this month.
“We are hopeful the court will stop this rule from going into effect so that South Dakotans can choose for themselves when and how to access health care services, including abortion,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States.
The ACLU of South Dakota joined in filing the suit.
South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem initiated the rules change in September through an executive order, ahead of the Food and Drug Administration’s decision last month to permanently remove a requirement that women seeking abortion pills pick them up in person.
“Gov. Noem is focused on protecting women’s health,” said Ian Fury, the governor’s communications director. “The ACLU and Planned Parenthood have shown that they are more worried about their bottom line.”
Noem’s administration argued the extra visit is necessary to make sure women don’t have complications from the drug. Doctors have warned that making it harder for women to obtain the second drug is dangerous because there is greater risk of hemorrhage if they don’t get it.
In addition, requiring a third trip to a health center in one week would require time and money that many patients do not have, the lawsuit states. South Dakota will be the only state to require three visits for a medication abortion, according to Planned Parenthood.