Time to get out the popcorn! Summer movie season – whether on the big screen or streaming at home – has officially begun.
For most South Dakotans, it’s a thrill to see their state pictured or mentioned on the big screen. Think Kevin Costner’s epic “Dances with Wolves” or Pauly Shore’s slapstick rom-com “Son in Law” or the recent Academy Award-winning “Nomadland,” just to name a few.
The comedy “Plan B,” which recently debuted on Hulu, joins the ranks of films with a South Dakota storyline. “Plan B” tells the story of two teens who embark on a road trip through South Dakota in search of the morning-after pill after a condom breaks. The teens cannot access the Plan B pill on their own because of the state’s law allowing pharmacists to deny medication to South Dakotans. South Dakota is one of six states in the country that has a “conscience clause” regarding emergency contraception. A pharmacist can refuse to give Plan B to any patient – including adults.
Because a pharmacist refuses to prescribe the medication, the two girls then decide to drive to the place they know they can access care: Planned Parenthood. They drive to Rapid City, only to find the Planned Parenthood health center closed – a plot point that helps advance the hijinks of the movie.
In reality, Planned Parenthood closed its Rapid City location because of budget challenges in 2014. Now the state’s only Planned Parenthood location is in Sioux Falls.
“A lot of people think that just abortion care is difficult to access in South Dakota, but this film really shows the many obstacles to all kinds of sexual and reproductive health care,” said Kristin Hayward, manager of advocacy in South Dakota for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota Action Fund. “South Dakota law limits emergency contraception, birth control, even condoms. The laws limit access to minors the most, and it makes it really, really hard for South Dakotans to get the health care they need. The movie is a comedy – and there are lots of funny parts – but the issues are serious. South Dakotans have to face these hurdles to health care every single day.”
“Plan B” isn’t meant to be a lecture on reproductive rights. It’s a sharp-witted summer road-trip adventure movie. But that it happens to take place in South Dakota, one of six states with only one abortion provider, is a reminder that the work to ensure that people can make the best decisions for themselves and their family without undue political interference is far from over.
Just this year, South Dakota legislators passed two extreme anti-abortion bills – one that would require doctors to give false and misleading information to patients about a so-called “abortion reversal” and one that would ban abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, judging the reason someone seeks a safe, legal abortion.
“For too many years, our legislators have been interfering with people’s personal health care decisions,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “Politicians should be focusing on protecting the health, rights and well-being of all South Dakotans instead of devising new ways to attack reproductive rights with extreme legislation every year and politicizing heath care.”
About Planned Parenthood
Founded in 1992, the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization. As the advocacy and electoral arm of PPMNS, we mobilize supporters of all parties to defend and increase access to family planning services and fact based, medically accurate sexuality education. We work to inspire and engage citizens to take up the cause of reproductive health and rights through education, electoral activity, grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy.
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.