PIERRE | A measure that could ban a surgical abortion procedure that Planned Parenthood says doesn't occur in South Dakota passed through a House committee on Tuesday.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Isaac Latterell, told the House Health and Human Services Committee that a later-term abortion procedure could involve separating the skull from the spine. He said his legislation bans that practice, which he said may be part of a procedure called dilation and evacuation.
"I believe at a certain size child it's necessary to sever the head from the spine, and if that is done during a (dilation and evacuation procedure) then I'm opposed to it," Latterell said in an interview Tuesday.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jennifer Aulwes said the language in the bill is medically inaccurate and inflammatory and that the procedure isn't performed in South Dakota. The committee approved the measure 11-2, over the protests of Democrats.
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Elizabeth Nash is a policy analyst with the Guttmacher Institute, a national research organization that supports legal access to abortion. She said the bill appears to be an attempt to make abortion sound "horrible" and a step toward banning another type of procedure.
"What this bill is really about is the inflammatory language and riling up people to be opposed to abortion," Nash said. "This language is pretty gruesome. It's inflammatory. It's designed to get the political juices flowing. It is not really about what medical practice is like."
She said South Dakota's only abortion clinic, in Sioux Falls, doesn't perform abortions after a pregnancy reaches 14 weeks. Planned Parenthood's website says dilation and evacuation typically occurs after 16 weeks.
South Dakota law limits abortions after 24 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute.