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Amidst Growth in Infant Mortality and STDs, South Dakota Cuts Support for Reproductive Health in Mobridge

The South Dakota Department of Health offers a Family Planning Program to provide affordable birth control, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, client education and counseling, annual exams, and other reproduction-related services. The program uses federal Title X family planning and Maternal Child Health Grant money and private donations to subsidize services, for which it charges based on family size and income. 18 clinics in 16 of South Dakota’s 66 counties offer these state-supported services.

The state was supporting family planning services at a 19th site, in Mobridge, but evidently cut that site last month:

Last month, the director for the Family Planning Program sent a letter to patients of Walworth County Public Health Alliance in Mobridge, informing them that the program would no longer be available starting August 1. The letter said all patient care would be transferred to other locations and named Aberdeen and Eagle Butte as the closest clinics.

There’s just one problem, the drive from Mobridge to the Aberdeen clinic is 100 miles away.

MacKenzie Walsh-Keeley is a registered nurse at Horizon Aberdeen Community Health Center. Walsh-Keeley said she’s seen an uptick in patients looking for reproductive health care after the other clinics closed their program.

“We’ve been much busier since they closed,” she said.” All those patients that were in the family program there have come over here now” [Gracie Terrall, “ACLU Concerned About Family Planning Clinics Closing,” KELO-TV, 2023.08.30].

Hmmm… infant mortality is up in South Dakota, in part due to syphilis, which is surging along with other STDs here at a rate outpacing the rest of the nation. Syphilis is especially problematic in Indian Country, which Mobridge is well-positioned to serve. But the state is pulling back on affordable services that could combat STDs and infant mortality?

Related Reading: We should also expect a swift cut, or at least an edit, to the Department of Health’s Reproductive Health webpage. The first informative link provided in the main text, under “Contraceptive Services”, invites South Dakotans to “Learn more about birth control, relationships, and other sexual health topics with Bedsider.”

South Dakota Department of Health, "Reproductive Health," screen cap 2023.08.31.
South Dakota Department of Health, “Reproductive Health,” screen cap 2023.08.31.

First, I’m surprised the Republican Taliban still allows the Department of Health to even mention contraception, let alone provide funding to help South Dakotans get it. But even better, a click on that blue button to Learn More opens, whose top four headline links invite users to check out birth control options, find a health center, get birth control delivered, and find an abortion provider:, screen cap 2023.08.31, screen cap 2023.08.31.

So even though South Dakota bans abortion, the state Department of Health still provides information to help women find health care facilities that will provide this “common and safe medical procedure.” How nice of the Department of Health… and, I suspect, how fleeting.


  1. larry kurtz 2023-08-31

    In 2010 now-deceased Republic of Lakotah activist, Russell Means, accused Senator John Thune (earth hater-SD) of a breach in his fiduciary duty as sworn in his oath of office. Mr. Means believed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), part of the US Department of the Interior, has been violating Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statutes within Mr. Thune’s full view. The accusation came on the heels of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit seeking evidence of Indian Health Services (IHS) coercion in Pitocin-induced births on the Cheyenne River reservation because doctors were on a schedule and couldn’t be bothered waiting for a natural childbirth yet IHS is notoriously slow in providing reproductive health services.

    The responsibility of the United States to the needs of tribes was established in 1787, is based on Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and has been given form and substance by numerous treaties, laws, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive Orders.

  2. jkl 2023-08-31

    It’s a trap!!

  3. O 2023-08-31

    . . . but on the upside, billionaires (mostly white) are keeping more of their money.

  4. Loren 2023-08-31

    Let’s put sex/sexuality back in the closet where it belongs. We want only abstinence training/counseling like the good ol’ days. We don’t want to hear any of this pornography until little Susie is pregnant or little Johnnie has syphilis, at which time we can find some 3rd party to blame.

  5. sx123 2023-08-31

    Interesting. A big addition to the Mobridge hospital is currently being built and quite far along.

  6. Samantha Chapman 2023-08-31

    And how clever of you to bring attention to an actually helpful and medically sound resource! I’m sure this won’t accelerate the elimination of the resource from the website at all.

    Sometimes it’s worth an additional five minutes of thought to consider the outcomes of your actions.

  7. DaveFN 2023-09-01


    Whoever you are (and I can but guess in the imaginary wisdom of my omnipotent projections), your comments are the very best on DFP.

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