S.D. abortion ban’s effect on Minnesota unclear

There are many factors to whether an enacted South Dakota abortion ban would affect its neighbor states.

by Yelena Kibasova

With South Dakota on the verge of passing a nearly full ban on abortion, some wonder whether neighboring states, such as Minnesota, will be affected.

The bill is awaiting the approval of Republican Gov. Mike Round, who said he is “inclined” to sign it.

If the ban passes, abortions will be permitted only if birth endangers the life of the mother. But most think the bill will not have much effect in Minnesota or elsewhere.

The bill will be signed, vetoed or left unsigned by March 15, said Mark Johnston, Round’s press secretary. If it is signed or left unsigned, it will become law on July 1.

“This is the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the country right now,” said Kathleen Hull, a University sociology professor.

Heidi Burns, a junior, said of her home state: “As to whether it’s a shock to me – not really. It was kind of bound to happen.”

South Dakota has one abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood, in Sioux Falls.

Sarah Stoesz, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota said South Dakota women already have to travel to other states for services. She said women definitely will go to Minnesota if the ban is passed.

Others think there will be no direct effect on Minnesota if the South Dakota law passes.

Hull said she is not sure whether the law will make any difference in terms of more women coming to Minnesota because most South Dakota women probably already have to travel a great distance to obtain an abortion.

Tony Kriesel, a third-year law student, said, “As far as women flooding the borders, I don’t think we’re going to see that.”

Jill Hasday, an associate professor at the University’s Law School, said some women will have to travel to neighboring states to get an abortion if the law passes.

“The women that are hurt most Ö are the women that don’t have the means or the money to leave,” she said.

But other University experts said there is nothing to worry about.

Law professor Dale Carpenter said that even if it is signed, the law will never go into effect.

“I think as soon as it becomes effective, it will immediately be challenged in court, which will suspend enforcement of the law,” he said.

Stoesz said Planned Parenthood is planning to fight the abortion ban if it passes.

“We are preparing our lawsuit,” she said. “We will challenge the constitutionality of this law if (Round) signs it.”

Carpenter said the law eventually will move its way up to a federal appeals court, which, he said, likely will decide it’s unconstitutional.

University experts said the ban is the state’s way of assessing where the Supreme Court stands on the issue.

Carpenter said South Dakota legislators hope that by the time a case would reach the Supreme Court, another justice will retire and be replaced by a justice who opposes Roe v. Wade.

“Someone on the court Ö could change his or her mind (about their stance on abortion),” Carpenter said. “(But) that is very unlikely.”

He said that even if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, it would not make abortion illegal all over the country.

“The state legislatures would get to decide for themselves whether to allow abortion,” Carpenter said.

He said the case might not even make it to the Supreme Court.

“They can deny a case and do not even have to tell us why,” Carpenter said.

Kriesel, who is also an officer of the University Pro-Life Coalition, said the ban is a good idea. He said the makeup of the Supreme Court has changed over the past year, and the law will help revisit the abortion topic.

“If the Supreme Court so chooses to take on that issue, it would probably be a good thing to see where the court stands,” Kriesel said.

Some at the University said they are strongly against the ban.

Burns said one of the reasons she transferred to Minnesota is because the state is more liberal. Burns, who is from Sioux Falls, is aware her hometown has the state’s only abortion clinic.

“I know that they have had to fly physicians in from Minnesota to practice at the clinic,” she said.

Burns said she does not support the bill back home.

“I don’t really think it’s fair to take away rights from others and give them to someone else,” she said.

Hull said she is not certain what the future holds.

“I’m not sure what to expect given the recent changes in the Supreme Court,” she said. “I’m not confident that they are going to uphold Roe v. Wade, so I think this could be the beginning of significant change in terms of the legal landscape for abortion.”

Stoesz said South Dakota is one of the few states that do not provide state funding for birth control.

“The irony for South Dakota women is that it’s harder for them to get birth control and it will also be harder for them to access abortion care,” she said. “It’s really dreadful for South Dakota women.”

Stoesz said there is a fear that the ban will open the doors for all states to enact similar laws.

“There is a great deal of anger about this ban that is being expressed all around the country and in South Dakota,” she said.