South Dakota lawmakers won't see a controversial anti-abortion bill some activists wanted to bring this session, but that doesn't mean abortion won't be on the agenda next month in Pierre.
Groups like South Dakota Right to Life wanted to bring a "fetal pain" bill, similar to measures passed in states such as Nebraska, that declare that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks and that therefore abortions after that date are illegal.
But no bill ended up materializing.
Leslie Unruh, executive director of the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls and a prominent anti-abortion activist, said her group considered supporting such a measure but ultimately decided it was better to wait with the state currently defending 2005 and 2011 anti-abortion laws in court.
"You can only have so much on my plate, and my plate is pretty full," she said. "We're committed to the legislation we've already passed."
Valerie Johnson, the education coordinator for South Dakota Right to Life and the South Dakota delegate to National Right to Life, had been one of the bigger proponents of bringing a fetal pain bill before the Legislature.
"It just didn't work out quite right this year," said Johnson. "There's a lot of other stuff going on right now."
That "other stuff" includes four bills that touch on the issue of abortion.
One of those bills, up for an initial hearing Thursday morning before the House Health and Human Services Committee, is HB 1150. That measure would regulate the advertising of pregnancy centers that don't provide abortion services or referrals.
Any such pregnancy center could, under the law, be prosecuted for advertising containing any statement or omission, related to its services, that is "untrue or misleading" and that the center "knew or should have known to be untrue or misleader" when published.
Unruh said the Alpha Center, a pregnancy center, is fiercely opposed to HB 1150.
"It would close pregnancy centers," Unruh said. "There's no way around that."
A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota declined to comment about the specifics of any of the abortion-related bills that have been offered this legislative session.
Several other abortion-related bills have yet to be scheduled for hearings.
HB 1185 deals with an overlap between abortion and the federal Affordable Care Act. That law asks for states to set up health insurance exchanges for individuals to purchase health insurance from - and gives states the right to forbid plans on their exchange from covering abortion.
Sponsored by Rep. Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids, HB 1185 would put such a ban in place on any health insurance exchange established in South Dakota. If passed, abortion coverage could only be offered as a supplemental elective by plans participating in the exchange. Only abortions to save the life of the mother would be allowed under basic health insurance plans.
South Dakota does not have an exchange, and Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently said he wouldn't try to set one up until at least next year.
HB 1254 would revisit last year's controversial abortion law, HB 1217. That law is being challenged in court by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. HB 1254 would revise some of the language HB 1217 set in place regarding a woman's consultations with physicians and pregnancy care centers in an attempt to make them more legally sound, Unruh said.
Not explicitly related to abortion, but also dealing with pregnancy, is SB 148. Current law provides for simple or aggravated assault charges for anyone who assaults a pregnant woman and injures an unborn child or children. SB 148 would create two new offenses, criminal battery of an unborn child and aggravated criminal battery of an unborn child, with similar penalties to the old assault charges.
The bill would also delete language singling out assault on an infant less than 3 years old for increased penalties.
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