Gov. Daugaard Signs Abortion Waiting Period Bill; Both Sides React
March 22, 2011 6:21 PM
With the governor's signature, today South Dakota tripled the time women must wait for an abortion. It would take the current required wait from 24 hours to 72. It would mandate counseling at centers opposed to abortion. And it would take effect July 1st. The decision and the law itself have people on both sides talking tonight.
Many states require women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion. But with Governor Daugaard's signature, a three-day wait will be a requirement. That's makes South Dakota unique because it would be the longest waiting period in the nation.
“This is unprecedented. No other laws in the country have this long of a wait period and particularly in a state that is so geographically large, this waiting period is burdensome on women,” said Alisha Sedor, with NARAL Pro Choice.
But those who support the legislation say this waiting period is necessary, and says they are pleased with the legislature and governor for recognizing that.
“They heard the women's cries, they listened to the women who talked about coercion and said they wanted more time to make that decision. These are women who have had abortions. And so we are thrilled that they listened, they heard, they put politics aside,” said Leslee Unruh, with the Alpha Center
In addition to a longer waiting period, the bill also requires women to undergo counseling at pro-life pregnancy centers before moving forward.
“This is really a thrill for south Dakota and the women of south Dakota and women who have made this decision. One of the women that testified with the legislature said she was so happy, she said I would have a baby if this law was in place,” said Unruh.
But where Supporters of the law say it will end women being persuaded to have an abortion, opponents say it puts pressure in the opposite direction.
“There are no guarantees they wont coerce them in the same way they're worried that women are coerced into having abortions out of having abortions,” said Sedor.
Even though the governor signed the bill into a law, the debate could now move to a courtroom.
“As far as we're concerned, and are coalition partners, all options are still on the table. A couple of organizations have expressed their interest in litigating but that’s there decision, so we'll stand behind any efforts,” said Sedor.
“I don’t think the battle is probably over. I have been in this for 27 years and I think its a long battle, I think its a war and this is just one of the battles in the war. But I think its a war that’s worth fighting for,” said Unruh.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood announced they plan to file a lawsuit to overturn the new law. Meanwhile, supporters of the waiting period say they will find private money defend the law in court. The new law is set to go into effect July 1st.