South Dakota bans abortions based on Down syndrome diagnosis; Noem signs 4 pro-life bills

Baby in the womb
An image of an unborn child. |

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed four pro-life bills into law last week, including a bill that makes abortions performed in the state because of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis a felony.  

Known as House Bill 1110, the measure was signed into law last Friday and bans abortions for the sake of terminating a Down syndrome baby, with an exemption given for life-threatening medical emergency for the mother.

“No person may perform or attempt to perform an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion because the unborn child either has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or has had a genetic screening indicating that the unborn child may have Down syndrome,” the bill reads.

“Any person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 6 felony. No penalty may be assessed against the woman upon whom the abortion is performed or attempted to be performed.”

In a statement last Friday, Noem cited the Declaration of Independence, noting that “God created each of us and endowed all of us with the right to life."

"This is true for everyone, including those with an extra chromosome," she wrote. 

“I look forward to the day when the Supreme Court recognizes that all preborn children inherently possess this right to life, too," she added. “Until that time comes, I am pleased to sign a ban on the abortion of a preborn child, just because that child is diagnosed with Down syndrome, as well as several other important pro-life bills.”

The legislation was criticized by pro-choice groups like the South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming that it wrongfully marginalizes reproductive rights.

“We oppose House Bill 1110 because forced pregnancy threatens a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as the stability and wellbeing of their family,” stated the ACLU of South Dakota before the bill was signed.

“This bill is an attempt to push abortion access even further out of reach out of reach in a state with some of the heaviest abortion restrictions possible in this country.”

In addition to HB 1110, Noem has signed three other anti-abortion bills.

Senate Bill 183 bars contracts from forcing women to undergo abortions. House Bill 1114 creates a definition of abortion that labels the fetus “an unborn human being."

House Bill 1130 creates requirements for clinics to present information on the controversial abortion reversal procedure for medical abortions. The bill states that information presented to mothers must state that "even after a pregnant mother takes Mifepristone, or another drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the same use, it is still possible to discontinue a drug-induced abortion by not taking the prescribed Misoprostol."

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