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Peggy Gibson: HB 1217 Endangers Women, Liberty, Privacy, Budget

Rep. Peggy Gibson (D-22/Huron)
Rep. Peggy Gibson (D-22/Huron)

In floor debate yesterday, Rep. Peggy Gibson (D-22/Huron) gave the most compelling argument against South Dakota's abortion-oppression bill, HB 1217. Rep. Gibson deserves a blog post of her own. I paraphrase extensively her courageous rebuttal to the woman-hating, big-government hogwash peddled by sponsor Roger Hunt.

Rep. Gibson rose in "vehement opposition" to HB 1217. She pointed out that we South Dakotans have twice voted to leave the abortion issue alone, but that the Legislature doesn't get the message. (Cue Senator Rhoden to say we're a republic, not a democracy.)

Gibson decried (as Republicans do when it suits their purposes) government intrusion into people's private medical decisions. HB 1217 is just another government mandate, an extreme 72-hour delay to abortion care. South Dakota would be first state to apply such an extreme mandate on women's health care. Rep. Gibson said that Attorney General Marty Jackley himself anticipates HB 1217 will get South Dakota sued and cost us a million-plus to litigate.

Rep. Gibson noted that HB 1217 requires women seeking an abortion to make three separate trips, which is a huge burden on rural women and poor women. HB 1217 discriminates and restricts poor women's access to health care. The wait time, said Gibson, also increases the health risks for women.

Rep. Gibson railed against the notion that, in the name of preventing coercion, the state would force women to submission to in-person lectures from non-qualified faith-based volunteers at anti-choice pregnancy centers, even if it's against their will. What about the rules on health privacy, she asked. HB 1217 makes no requirement that the counselors at the pregnancy help centers have any medical certification or training. HB 1217 would force women to share personal medical information with volunteers who could turn into the town gossip.

Rep. Gibson expressed concern that HB 1217 forbids bringing a loved one to provide support during the counseling. This "private" counseling constitutes "harassment, propaganda, and coercion."

Alongside the constitutional, medical, and moral concerns, Rep. Gibson said HB 1217 should be voted down on fiscal grounds. It is an unfunded mandate. It requires the Department of Health to maintain a registry of anti-abortion propaganda centers but provides no specific cost figure or funding mechanism.

"No woman should be misled when seeking medical care or be compelled to submit to a lecture regarding her personal health care choices from anyone they do not want to be involved," said Rep. Gibson. HB 1217 makes the demeaning and erroneous assumption that women aren't making good choices and can't do so without government interference.

Representative Gibson is one of just 19 members of the House who voted to protect the rights, autonomy, and Constitutional equality of my wife and daughter yesterday. Thank you, Representative Gibson.


  1. mgmonklewis 2011.02.23

    In addition to treating women like children who can't make decisions for themselves, and saying that the government owns your uterus, doesn't this bill violate HIPAA regulations? Federal privacy laws forbid people from sharing private health information with people who don't need to know -- such as the unqualified, untrained, uncertified "counselors" mentioned in this bill. Also, the patient has to give consent for personal health information to be shared. I'm pretty sure the state can't unilaterally force people to share their health information with activist busybodies.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I have had HIPAA training for my job, and this bill seems to blatantly violate federal patient privacy laws, which would trump state law.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.02.23

    I've been wondering about HIPAA implications myself. HIPAA does not limit a woman's right to volunteer information about her medical situation to anyone. The bill carefully avoids mentioning any requirement on the woman to surrender information to the CPC counselors. If I'm reading the bill right, the only information she is explicitly required to give the CPC is the name of the doctor whom she is asking to perform the abortion (and might that information alone be enough to trigger a HIPAA challenge?). Otherwise, while the bill requires the woman schedule and attend the counseling and requires the CPC to interview her, it does not explicitly require her to say anything. In other words, the woman appears to have the right to remain silent during her CPC interrogation... although anything she may say or may not say may be held against her in the CPC's coercion warning to the physician.

    Of course, just by forcing the woman to walk into a CPC, it is forcing her to reveal to third parties, who are not providing medical treatment or payment for treatment, the very personal medical information that she is pregnant. That could be the HIPAA trigger right there.

  3. mgmonklewis 2011.02.23

    As you note, forcing a woman to have an "interview" with a third party automatically provides private medical information to that person. It tells them that she is pregnant, and that (at a minimum) she is seeking some kind of medical procedure regarding her pregnancy. That is a clear HIPAA violation, unless the state can show that the third party has a "need to know" the patient's medical information.

  4. Jana 2011.02.23

    Not to mention anyone sitting in the parking lot taking pictures and writing down license plate #'s. That would never happen though, would it?

  5. lrads1 2011.02.23

    Think about the position the crusading House members (assuming the Senate passes it as well) have put their new Governor into--now he has to choose between this holy cause of right which will be immediately challenged on constitutionality and the unholy rights of a woman to suffer through the situation without the local church gossip berating her about her choices. Oh well, it will give our new attorney general yet another opportunity to ingratiate himself to the extremists.

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