Judge Karen Schreier gave the State of South Dakota a week to come up with some kind of argument to convince her not to extend her January 27 restraining order and let the state make it practically impossible for South Dakota women to use mifepristone to terminate their pregnancies. The state evidently failed. Today, Judge Schreier said women still have a right to control their bodies and that right is unduly burdened by a new, medically unjustified rule banning the use of mifepristone and misoprostol outside of medical facilities.
The state failed to offer any new evidence to overturn Judge Schreier’s previous conclusion that there is no science, professional medical guidance, or FDA finding that demonstrates any legitimate purpose that its medication abortion rule might serve. Judge Schreier found the state’s rule, in conjunction with the state’s burdensome abortion waiting periods, would actually put women at greater risk of harm from delayed care, incomplete medication, and discovery of their abortions by abusive partners. The rule would harm women for whom medication abortion is medically indicated but who would be unable to comply with the state’s prolonged timeframe for obtaining mifepristone and misoprostol and thus would have to submit to the much more invasive alternative of procedural abortion. Additionally, forcing women seeking medication abortions to return for third and fourth appointments would back up other appointments at Planned Parenthood, delaying abortions for other patients. Judge Schreier sees the agreed science in the arguments that says, “Abortions are safer and lower risk when performed earlier in gestation” [p. 34] and concludes the state’s rule runs counter to its stated purpose of protecting women.
This ruling signals plaintiffs could easily win a similar injunction against House Bill 1318, Governor Kristi Noem’s effort to write this rule into law. It could also stop cold House Bill 1208, Representative Steven Haugaard’s proposal to completely ban chemical abortions, and House Bill 1326, Haugaard’s attempt to outlaw all abortion drugs and procedures except for women on the edge of death. Those three bills are the only abortion restrictions i the Legislative hopper.