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Can SD Be “Pro-Life” and Pro-Business? Gilead Employers Skittish About Publicizing Health Benefits

Back in May, Representative Jon Hansen (R-25/Dell Rapids) said he would use the Special Session on abortion that Governor Kristi Noem promised to propose legislation that would “Ban South Dakota corporations like Amazon and Citibank from paying for the expenses to abort South Dakota babies and prohibit the state from doing business with any corporation that pays for babies to be aborted.”

Governor Noem broke that Special Session promise last month, saying now that we don’t need to take immediate action to protect mothers and children in post-Roe America. South Dakota corporations thus remain free to cover reproductive care for their employees without punishment from the state. And USD law professor Hannah Haksgaard says that if South Dakota knows what’s good for its economy, it won’t try imposing such punishment:

“The state wants to identify as both pro-life and pro-business, but this could be a conflict,” She said. “If South Dakota’s going to be a pro-business state, it would not make sense to try to punish businesses who decide to offer support for women having an abortion” [Symmone Gauer, “Here’s Why Some Sioux Falls Companies Aren’t Vocal About Offering Abortion Travel Benefits,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.08.05].

Professor Haksgaard sounds like Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, who said Tuesday that Kansas voters’ refusal to strip women of their constitutionally protected right to abortion helps make Kansas “the best state in the nation to live freely & do business.” Freedom, including reproductive freedom, and business go hand in hand.

Gauer notes that of the 13 big Sioux Falls employers she queried about abortion-travel-coverage policies, 11 gave no definite response. Wells Fargo said it does cover employee travel for reproductive care; the Sioux Falls School District said it does not. The fact that 11 out of 13 large employers won’t talk about the benefits they offer—something firms usually should be eager to discuss to recruit new employees—suggests how Hansen’s and Noem’s desire to turn South Dakota into Gilead of The Handmaid’s Tale is already making firms nervous about engaging in normal operations in South Dakota and complicating their recruitment efforts. If Representative Hansen comes to Pierre in January and makes good on his threats to punish businesses, businesses may vote with their feet and set up shop in states where they and their employees can enjoy real freedom.

Gauer reminds us that, while taking her victory laps right after the Alito Court’s Dobbs decision, Noem said, “I don’t believe there should be any punishment for women, ever, that are in a crisis situation or have an unplanned pregnancy.” But isn’t it punishment to make it harder for women with unplanned pregnancies to get the health care they want? Isn’t punishment to force a woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant to remain pregnant and undergo childbirth?

17 Comments

  1. larry kurtz 2022-08-06 08:02

    After Amtrak’s Empire Builder derailed near Joplin, Montana many of the injured passengers were unable to find medical care because area hospitals are overwhelmed with unvaccinated Republicans. The Benefis Health System hospital in Great Falls is about 100 miles from Joplin.

    Montana held first place in 2021 but South Dakota is again the most lucrative state to practice medicine thanks to its medical industry triopoly. Nurses’ salaries still surf the bottom and the state is 22nd in “medical environment” so why isn’t there a regulatory body like the Public Utilities Commission to regulate medical care costs? Because the state is a corporatist tax haven for an exclusive set of Republicans while over $4 trillion languishes in South Dakota banks and trusts.

    Despair and desperation will always give the underground economy markets for people looking for any remedy to make the pain go away. So, the callous denial of most Republicans that capitalism is failing an ever-growing number of Americans and driving crime rates higher while blaming their own victims will crush this republic before they will ever raise wages.

    Any registered nurse with at least half a brain will leave for Minnesota, Colorado or the Southwest the instant they graduate so the work force in South Dakota just gets stupider and more Republican. The only worse state for nurses to work is Alabama. In fact, 21 of the bottom feeder states are all red and the best paid nurses work in blue states!

  2. larry kurtz 2022-08-06 08:22

    Being unable to obtain an abortion also made it difficult for the women to achieve their economic goals. Six months after the start of the study, the women who were turned away were more than three times as likely to be unemployed than the women who got abortions, and those who worked were less likely to be doing so full time. They were also less likely to graduate from school and more likely to drop out. Among those who had aspirational life plans, the women who were denied an abortion and gave birth were far less likely to achieve them. Economists found that in states with TRAP (targeted restriction of abortion providers) laws, women are 5.8 percent less likely to move between jobs and 7.6 percent less likely to move on to better-paid jobs.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/economy/dobbs-abortion-economic-cost/

  3. John 2022-08-06 19:33

    SD and the anti-abortion states will find it difficult to recruit non-resident college students, doctors, and nurses – especially OB-GYNs.

    Rest assured that corporations will also not re-locate and will reduce operations in SD and anti-abortion states.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-06 20:04

    It’s a shame that the only way South Dakota will learn its lesson is to shoot itself in the foot like this. And it’s a shame that South Dakota will punish so many businesses, workers, and women in the process. Can’t we find a way to hasten South Dakota’s learning process and minimize the harm?

  5. grudznick 2022-08-06 20:22

    Lar, there was a fellow, back in the day, worked for the PUCcers as a Commissioner or something. He was in lock step with your thinking. Do you remember him? Name was Bob.

  6. O 2022-08-06 21:48

    The core value of business — no matter the rhetoric — is maximizing profit for the shareholder. SD will bend over backward to help in that pursuit. For all the idealistic businesses who leave or avoid SD for political/moral reasons, there are plenty of sweatshops ready to swoop in and take advantage of cheap labor and tax havens. Heck, we might even land a my pillow factory if we keep playing our cards right.

  7. All Mammal 2022-08-06 22:48

    One possible option we could take a crack at to solve our problem of always taking the long, gruesome path Mr. H is trying to figure out in search of homeostasis in SD could be to throw our border open wide.

    Welcome a substantial flow of immigrants to the Coyote State. That would gain: new skin in the game, workforce with work ethic, industries competing for good help, projects going up, diverse perspectives, meanies being forced to learn tolerance, boosted economy, native South Dakotans forced to appreciate what a sweet deal we’ve been dealt all along with even more reasons to play a role in protecting and sharing our land and resources and democracy, and most importantly, pride instilled in every South Dakotan for our ability to model exemplary goodwill. Oh, I almost forgot to mention all the new citizens able to realize their dream of having a safe home and supportive community. Love begets love so we would only wind up richer.

    The rest of the world would want to follow our lead once we prove how well our open minded, open border experiment benefits the health, prosperity, and success of our people.

    When we do encounter hiccups, we will be equipped to figure out solutions much more quickly than we do now with unmotivated, not very healthy people with few options, low moral, measly population numbers, few perspectives and narrow minds. Our neighbors will be taking notice of our unorthodox methods. We won’t fail. We will be phenomenal.

    I expect to hear:
    Chirp. Chirp.
    And that’s ok

  8. John 2022-08-07 11:26

    Clips from the aforementioned article:
    “One large medical recruiting firm said it recently had 20 obstetrician-gynecologists turn down positions in red states because of abortion laws. The reluctance extends beyond those interested in providing abortion care, as laws meant to protect a fetus could open doctors up to new liabilities or limit their ability to practice.”
    “Tom Florence, president of Merritt Hawkins, an AMN Healthcare company, cited 20 instances since the Supreme Court ruling where prospects specifically refused to relocate to states where reproductive rights are being targeted by lawmakers.
    “To talk to approximately 20 candidates that state they would decline to practice in those restrictive states, that is certainly a trend we are seeing,” Florence said. “It is certainly going to impact things moving forward.””
    “. . . a physician contacted by phone by an AMN Healthcare recruiter trying to fill a post in an antiabortion state “simply said, ‘Roe versus Wade,’ and hung up,” Florence said.”

    SD will be unable to recruit doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals. The few that do come to SD will not be from the top of their classes, and certainly will not remain beyond an obligatory initial term.

    Another nice bunt from the SD legislature and governor.

  9. Jenny 2022-08-07 11:35

    Trumpistan is just being Trumpistan. As far as normal people in other states are concerned, SD can keep the “open to nuts” campaign up. We are appreciative that you’re willing to house them, AR15s and all.
    Keep up your influx of young intelligent compassionate progressives to MN. The DFL openly welcomes them.
    The closeted gays from SD that have come out of the closet have never been happier. Freedom is for real in MN.

  10. bearcreekbat 2022-08-07 11:43

    I wonder it helps SD to recruit doctors if SD State officials refuse to boast about or even acknowledge SD’s capital murder statutes for women and abortion providers, coupled with the apparent hope that either prosecutors will not file such charges, or that a 1st degree murder conviction would be hard to get. Maybe SD Republican state officials and lawmakers have concluded that the simple threat of a class 6 felony isn’t as likely to discourage needed obstetrician-gynecologists from relocating the SD?

  11. mike from iowa 2022-08-07 12:00

    New York Times and WAPO both had columns recetly about how businesses were reacting to Indiana’s total ban on abortions. But, both have paywalls so I can’t read them.

  12. O 2022-08-08 16:33

    bearcreekbat, what terrifies me is how SD is changing/will change as it moves ever more toward a theocracy. When we get doctors that are excited to practice medicine in a state that mandates health care based on religious values, then it is small steps to the intrusion of ALL “religious values” into all elements of our lives. Every health care decision, every contract, every bakery sale . . . has to pass the “morality test” of the provider (or of your most conservative neighbor empowered through some obscene bounty system). This new Wild West of political absolutism will force migrations (refugees).

  13. grudznick 2022-08-08 18:04

    My good friend Lar points out the positive news from the Husker State, where Ray Aguilar is the puppet master of the legislature and bears a striking resemblance to Lar hisownself. Let us hope the populace in South Dakota starts to smite those insaner than most, and puts the stake of fear into the heart of our legislatures here.

  14. larry kurtz 2022-08-08 18:12

    A bloody shooting war between the Schoenbeck and Odenbach factions that leaves many casualties can’t happen expeditiously enough.

  15. John 2022-08-10 10:03

    It will happen here. Nebraska mother and 17 year old daughter face felony charges after the police obtained their discussions on Facebook.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/09/nebraska-teen-charged-aborting-fetus

    On any given day there are over 3,000 kids in foster care in the state of Nebraska . . . so how are abortion bans and anti-medical abortion restrictions going to reduce the human and social and societal costs? Should Nebraska make all its foster kids the wards of the Catholic Church? (sick humor)

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