I thought Senate Health and Human Services' deadlock on House Bill 1162, the sex-selective-abortion ban, offered us some hope for rational restraint on anti-abortion laws in the South Dakota Legislature. I should have known better than to get optimistic.
Concerns about women's rights and anti-Asian-American stereotypes be darned, Senate HHS voted yesterday to advance an amended version of HB 1162 to the full Senate. Senator Deb Soholt (R-14/Sioux Falls) came back into the room and joined Senator Jim Bradford (D-27/Pine Ridge) to vote against the bill. But two Republicans who voted against the bill Monday, Dr. R. Blake Curd of Sioux Falls and Bruce Rampelberg of Rapid City, switched and made the vote 5 to 2. Grrr.
There's no convincing the South Dakota Legislature that women ought to have access to a safe and legal medical procedure unfettered by legislative stigmatization and harassment. But among the offenses of HB 1162 is the expansion of South Dakota's violation of the First Amendment through compelled speech. HB 1162 forces doctors to add more state-driven statements to their medical exams, requiring doctors to interrogate women as to the sex of their fetuses, what those women have done to determine that sex, and when they did it.
Doctors don't need this information to carry out this medical procedure and protect the health of their patients. Doctors are being forced by the state to prolong their medical procedures, increase the stress patients experience in the examination room, and ultimately participate in deterring women from exercising their rights.
We still get two chances to beat HB 1162. The Senate will vote, then send it to conference to resolve the differences from the House version. Ladies, doctors, lady doctors, call your Senators, and tell them to back off.