An abortion ban, similar to the previous ban that was soundly rejected by voters in November 2006, will be introduced into the South Dakota House of Representatives today. Lawmakers had announced earlier this week that a new draft of the ban would be submitted soon. The first ban was extreme, allowing for abortion only in instances to prevent the death of a woman. The revised ban, titled the "Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act," offers additional exceptions, though they are very narrowly defined.
In addition to preventing the death of a woman, an abortion may be obtained in cases of rape or incest, but the victim must report the rape to the police within 50 days, the physician must obtain a copy of the report record, and the victim must provide either the name and last known address or a description of the alleged rapist to law enforcement. Furthermore, the physician would be required to take blood samples from the woman and the fetus to be submitted to law enforcement.
There is also a health exception in order to prevent "a devastating and irreversible injury to the mother's health, which is likely to cause a very significant impairment of the functioning of a major bodily organ or system, and which is likely to cause a very significant impairment of the quality of the mother's life."
The penalties outlined in the new bill, however, are much more severe than last year's bill. Any physician who performs an abortion outside the guidelines of the bill would be guilty of a class-four felony and could face up to 10 years in jail.
Women's health advocates also find the language of the act itself alarming. Beyond outlining the limits of abortion availability, the bill offers a lengthy description of the reasons abortion should be illegal, including that "the pregnant mother's relationship with her child is inherently beneficial to the mother" and that "abortion is an unworkable method for a pregnant mother to give up, surrender, or waive her fundamental right to her relationship with her child." This is reminiscent of abortion opponents trying to couch their arguments in "feminist" language during the 2006 election.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .