The World Net Daily theocracy propaganda machine is celebrating Governor Dennis Daugaard's apparently likely signature on HB 1217, the coercive counseling bill to stop abortion in South Dakota (and yes, even Senator Russell Olson admits HB 1217 is about stopping abortions). World Net Daily claims a Daugaard spokesman has assured them that "unless there is a major defect that has been completely unnoticed, the governor plans to sign the precedent-setting plan."

I don't know if the following counts as a major defect with HB 1217 itself, but consider this contradiction: on Tuesday, Governor Daugaard signed HB 1070, which requires all school counselors to obtain Department of Education certification by July 1, 2016. School counselors help kids assess their career prospects, pick colleges, figure out why their speech teacher gets so grouchy with them... all pretty important.

However, since I can't think of any recent legislation where the state requires students to discuss those matters with a school counselor, I conclude our lawmakers don't consider those decisions quite as significant as a woman's decision to have an abortion. I then conclude that, if the state would require school counselors to obtain professional certification to handle those apparently less significant matters, the state would also require certification of any pregnancy help center staff coercing—excuse me, counseling a woman into maintaining her relationship with her unborn child.

Ah, but there I go again, applying logic to South Dakota state government. Review the requirements for pregnancy help centers to make the official state registry created by HB 1217 (Section 5). This bill doesn't require anyone in the building to be certified. No license, no training, nothing. Quite seriously, I could start a pregnancy help center and get on the registry. I could have my mom and dad serve as my counselors, and they have no degree, no counseling coursework, no medical background.

The only professional requirements imposed on the pregnancy help centers is that they either have a licensed medical director or a collaborative agreement with a licensed doctor. But under HB 1217, that licensed doctor need not have any involvement with the women forced to come to my mom-and-pop keep-that-baby shop. HB 1217 offers women no guarantee of professional knowledge or ethics when they submit to this coercive counseling.

Governor Daugaard, if the point of HB 1217 really is to inform women, not just browbeat them, shame them, or make it practically impossible for them to get abortions in South Dakota, then the state should have a compelling interest in certifying the providers of that information. Failing to guarantee professional expertise and ethics in state-mandated counseling is at least unwise, if not contradictory to the principles that motivated your signing of HB 1070.

Bonus Professional Advice: 49 other countries do a better job of keeping women from dying in childbirth than does the United States. Kuwait, Bulgaria, and South Korea protect the lives of their new mothers better than we do. Shall we require women to come talk to me about the dangers of pregnancy and childbirth before they have sex?