Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 21, 2022

Every South Dakotan should have the freedom to define their reproductive path, free from political interference.

But Gov. Kristi Noem’s proposed legislation to codify her 2021 executive order on banning telemedicine abortion and to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, commonly around six weeks— before many people even know they are pregnant – are a violation of the civil rights and civil liberties of South Dakotans. The proposed bill banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy appears to mirror some provisions of Texas’ extreme abortion law that is currently being challenged in court.

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes Noem’s proposed legislation. South Dakotans should not be forced to carry pregnancies against their will, but Noem’s proposed legislation would do exactly that, depriving them of the ability to make decisions about their body and future.

 A person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions throughout pregnancy.

“Personal privacy and reproductive rights are among our most important constitutional liberties. But Gov. Noem doesn’t seem to care about our constitutional rights,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “It is time for politicians to stop interfering and to stop playing politics with health care. It is our right to shape our families, to access the health care we need, to decide when or whether we have children, and how we shape our lives. We won’t stop fighting until we put an end to these bans on abortion that force people to be pregnant with the impact hitting the most marginalized communities the harshest.”

Earlier this week, the ACLU of South Dakota and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging a new rule from the South Dakota Department of Health, created at the direction of Gov. Noem, that would require patients to have to wait a minimum of 24 hours before they can receive the second of two medications necessary for a medication abortion. This would mean patients would have to visit a health center three separate times to have their abortion. An additional visit, on top of the already laborious two visits required by law, would delay care and potentially prevent some patients from receiving the care they need altogether.

This follows the August 2021 ruling in Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota v. Noem where a federal judge struck down a requirement for women seeking abortions to first receive counseling from a so-called “pregnancy help center.” Gov. Noem has appealed the decision to the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.

About the ACLU of South Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.