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SD Braces for SCOTUS Activity on Abortions


Wednesday, November 3, 2021   

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- States like South Dakota are being closely watched as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up abortion cases elsewhere in the country.

Because of so-called "trigger laws," some are warning about the potential fallout.

This week, justices heard arguments about new abortion restrictions in Texas, and will soon look at a Mississippi case viewed as a direct threat to Roe v. Wade.

South Dakota is one of eleven states where abortions would be banned if the landmark federal law was overturned.

Kim Floren, co-founder of the Justice Empowerment Network, which helps people in the state access abortion care, said full restrictions would have a devastating effect.

"Abortion saves lives," Floren asserted. "And when people don't have access to it, then their quality of life suffers."

She pointed to circumstances when a pregnancy can threaten the mother's life. Floren also worries miscarriages will come under heavy scrutiny if bans are allowed.

Gov. Kristi Noem said she wants to ensure South Dakota remains a strong anti-abortion state. She signed a recent order restricting abortion medication, and has said she hopes for tighter laws in the future.

The Guttmacher Institute said South Dakota has only two facilities providing abortions.

Floren noted being in a state with a largely hostile view toward the procedure makes it harder for people to talk about critical moments in their reproductive health.

"If you drive through the state, there is an anti-abortion billboard in every single small town that you drive in," Floren observed.

Several states surrounding South Dakota also have trigger laws, and Floren added especially those living on the margins would have to go to great lengths to end a pregnancy.

Anti-abortion advocates say religious beliefs play a role in their decision, but Floren argued people can encounter a variety of unexpected situations, and in some pregnancies, she said emergencies make abortion a necessary option.

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 to fill the seat previously held by Republican Jeff Flake. (Flickr)

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