South Dakota legislators have created a bill that would require women requesting abortions to view a sonogram of the fetus and listen to the heartbeat before continuing with the abortion process.
Senate Bill 6 would change the current law which states, “[offer] the pregnant woman an opportunity to view a sonogram of her unborn child.” This would make the viewing of the sonogram mandatory, rather than a choice.
Dakota Wilson, Students for Reproductive Rights member, said he doesn’t believe this bill is necessary.
“The bill is actually pointless because the Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls already does sonograms for anyone who comes in, the only difference is that currently, a person can refuse to look at the sonogram, while this bill would require you to do so,” Wilson said. “The bill uses language that misleads people into believing that it is not already a practice, when it is.”
Medical professionals would be required to show the patient the fetus on the sonogram and then proceed to have the woman listen to the heartbeat if available at the time.
Currently, in South Dakota, patients must abide by a 72-hour waiting period before undergoing the procedure after their initial appointment.
“Personally, I feel that the bill degrades a person’s right to privacy and their right to an abortion,” Wilson said. “People who seek abortions in South Dakota already have to deal with laws that limit abortions to 14 weeks or less, 72 hour waiting periods, and the paying for taking time off for commutes to Sioux Falls, so adding these requirements on top is excessive. Unfortunately, the bill will also include people who have been raped, which causes the victim more trauma than they need to deal with.”
However, students who are pro-life look at this bill as a way of protecting the mother and child.
Karleen Murtha, Yotes for Life President, said this bill will help educate women who are considering abortion.
“I personally feel that women should be given all the facts and information before they make a choice to have an abortion, and I believe that is what this bill is trying to do,” Murtha said. “I don’t know how effective this bill would be, because we want to give women all the facts and information that empower them to choose life, but we don’t want to coerce them into anything.”
Murtha said Yotes for Life is not doing anything to support this bill because they are not a political group.
“Our focus is to provide resources and information to women so that they can be empowered to be pro-life,” Murtha said.
Newly-elected governor Kristi Noem is pro-life and said while campaigning that she will sign harsher abortion laws.
The proposed bill could affect students who may be seeking an abortion.
“The bill affects students in many ways, as it does everyone. Unfortunately, rape victims are included in this bill, and I fear that any victim who may be seeking an abortion will be deterred or feel attacked by the additional requirements and turn to unsafe methods,” Wilson said. “The bill would allow for clinics to use emotionally charged language about a fetus that pushes towards infringing on a person’s right to choose.”