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HB 1162: Sex-Selective Abortion Ban Compels Speech, Survives Committee

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.


  1. Nick Nemec 2014.03.06

    A woman wants an abortion, how is it determined that her intent is to abort because she doesn't like the gender of the fetus/unborn baby? This seems, if passed, to be an unenforceable law.

  2. mike from iowa 2014.03.06

    Compelled gubmint speech=propaganda. Nick has a good point or two. Maybe the poor,unfortunate woman/girl could force the courts to forcibly evict the fetus for non-payment of room and board,since wingnuts feel that the fetus is an entirely separate being from the mother,not to mention it is also a parasite-their choice of words. Make these tools eat their own words.

  3. Nick Nemec 2014.03.06

    What if the woman pleads the Fifth Amendment? She can't be compelled to answer the question "Are you seeking an abortion because of the gender of the fetus/unborn child?" Or can she? Republicans have never liked rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. If she lies and says no when she means yes how do we know? If she later admits to answering the question untruthfully is she charged with perjury?

  4. Jessie 2014.03.06

    " Ladies, doctors, lady doctors," ?

    Rampant sexist speech patterns aside, Cory, this is everyone's problem and we should encourage all interested parties, males included, to voice their concerns.

  5. Donald Pay 2014.03.06

    I said before that you can always expect the SD Legislature to not deal with real issues by getting totally sidetracked onto non-existent problems. This is nothing new. I'm sure there isn't enough courage or IQ points in the SD Legislature to turn down this bill.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.06

    Excellent constitutional point, Nick. But I suspect Rep. Haggar's response will be that since her bill imposes no penalty on the pregnant mother, there is no self-incrimination involved. If a preganant woman pled the Fifth or otherwise resisted responding, the doctor would have no legal barrier to interpreting that response as a sign that the woman was luring the doctor into breaking Haggar's law.

    Jessie, do I really not get to say "lady" any more?

  7. Bill Fleming 2014.03.06

    Nick, exactly. It's unconstitutional and unenforceable.

  8. Jessie 2014.03.06

    ... shaking head sadly ...

    Cory, it's not the lady part. It's the doctor, lady doctor part. That makes all doctors male, except for "lady doctors" who are different somehow.

    If you had said "ladies, gentlemen, doctors, everyone, get your butts in gear and defeat this outrageous piece of %^&%" I'd have had nothing to comment on.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.06

    Darn. I was hoping to emphasize that ladies who are also doctors may have the most reason to speak up on this issue, in defense of their profession and their sex.

  10. Jessie 2014.03.06

    Well, then, kudos for effort but negative points for execution.

    Online communication remains a tricky business. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Now let's concentrate on this outrageous bit of lawmaking.

  11. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.06


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