The law doesn't go into effect until July 1, but it already has many of us reeling. Twenty-nine states (including my own native Georgia) currently have mandatory waiting periods for abortions, but South Dakota's is by far the longest span of time that a woman is required to "sit and think about what she's done." I would say that the "third day" idea is some kind of Biblical allusion, but Jesus was actually only dead for 36 hours or so.
You still have a choice in South Dakota... technically.
The implications of HB 1217 are enormous, even from a merely practical standpoint. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 76% of South Dakotans live in counties with no abortion provider, so women facing an unwanted pregnancy in SD already have to make a pilgrimage to the state's one and only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls. Under the new law, that trip will now require at least three nights at a hotel and four days' leave from work. Alternatively, obtaining an abortion could necessitate driving back and forth from Sioux Falls several times in a week, scheduling multiple appointments with the abortion provider, and arranging for childcare. Add to that ordeal a nice visit to the friendly neighborhood crisis pregnancy center. Of course, it is useless to raise such criticisms of the bill, as these complications are precisely what SD lawmakers are hoping for. Though they cannot overturn Roe v. Wade, they can make obtaining an abortion as difficult and annoying as possible. I won't be surprised if we begin seeing 8- and 9-month-long waiting periods.
The waiting period, however, is not the worst part of this legislation. Far and above more ludicrous is HB 1217's requirement that women undergo "counseling" at a state-funded, medically unlicensed crisis pregnancy center. Ah, this is where those "good decisions" are to be made. Furthermore, lest the pro-choice side start getting any ideas about offering counseling, the bill proffers an exact definition of a CPC:
“The pregnancy help center has a facility or office in the state of South Dakota in which it routinely consults with women for the purpose of helping them keep their relationship with their unborn children; that one of its principal missions is to educate, counsel, and otherwise assist women to help them maintain their relationship with their unborn children; that they do not perform abortions at their facility, and have no affiliation with any organization or physician which performs abortions; that they do not now refer pregnant women for abortions, and have not referred any pregnant women for an abortion at any time in the three years immediately preceding July 1, 2011.”
Thus, the establishment required to give women pre-abortion "counseling" must, by definition, be staunchly pro-life. This clause was introduced under the widespread misconception that Planned Parenthood encourages women to have abortions, that it somehow has something to gain from doing so. In fact, Planned Parenthood does provide counseling, including information about parenting and adoption, to women who are considering abortion. The difference is that this counseling does not have an agenda to push, whereas CPCs are all hellfire and medically inaccurate ideology. These centers already outnumber abortion clinics eleven to one in South Dakota. Now, under HB 1217, their presence and influence will be even more far-reaching, and they will have even more license to guilt, terrify, and bully girls into making "the right choice."
One of the many tools that will be used to help you make "good decisions."
Given that these centers are unabashedly religiously-affiliated, I have no idea how this clause can be constitutional; given that they force-feed their "patients" blatant and deliberate medical lies, I feel like we may be moving quickly into a post-medical dystopian society of government-sponsored deception. Now, before I get ahead of myself spewing conspiracy theories, the absurdity and theocratic implications of this bill have already been duly noted by nearly everyone. Article links about HB 1217 have been popping up on my Facebook newsfeed almost continuously, and the subject has come up constantly in conversation. Rachel Maddow has already spoken out strongly against the bill; Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota have promised to take it up in court. We haven't heard the last word on HB 1217. Yet it's encouraging and even somewhat of a relief to hear some healthy indignation, because this is the only thing that is going to keep abortion rights in America even at a measly status quo.