The Washington Post reports today on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls, S.D — the only facility in the vast, largely rural state to offer abortions. Once a week, staffed by one of four doctors who fly in from Minnesota, the clinic provides abortions to the women of South Dakota, many of whom drive hundreds of miles and wait for hours to see a doctor. The last doctor in South Dakota to provide abortions stopped doing the procedure eight years ago, notes the Post. The medical community seems to have decided that offering the procedure is not worth the risk and “stigma of being branded a baby killer.”
But this is more than bad news for South Dakotan women (who are in a similar bind as those in North Dakota and Mississippi — the two other states with only one abortion provider). Indeed, South Dakota offers a blueprint for anti-choice legislators across the country — and we should all be scared. Making “abortion rare through laws and stigma,” as the Post puts it, has worked incredibly well; in 2005, the state legislature passed five new laws restricting abortion. Earlier this month a task force made recommendations to the legislature for 2006, including “requiring that a woman watch an ultrasound of her fetus, that doctors warn women about the psychological and physical dangers of abortion, and that women receive psychological counseling before the abortion, among other measures.”
And about those five new laws? One of them would make all the others moot. Should the Supreme Court ever overturn Roe, all abortions in the state of South Dakota would be illegal.