South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem bans at-home DIY telemedicine abortions

Gov. Kristi Noem
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 27, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. |

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order on Tuesday banning telemedicine abortions and regulating chemical abortions in the state.

Known as Executive Order 2021-12, Noem signed the order on Tuesday, which directs the state Department of Health to create rules against telemedicine abortions.

Noem said in a press release that she believed the Biden administration was “continuing to overstep its authority and suppress legislatures that are standing up for the unborn to pass strong pro-life laws.”

“They are working right now to make it easier to end the life of an unborn child via telemedicine abortion. That is not going to happen in South Dakota,” the governor said.

“I will continue working with the legislature and my Unborn Child Advocate to ensure that South Dakota remains a strong pro-life state.”

EO 2021-12 states, among other things, that abortion-inducing drugs can only be prescribed or dispensed by a licensed physician following an in-person examination, blocks abortion-inducing drugs from being provided via other means like telemedicine or mail service, and bans abortion-inducing drugs from being provided in schools.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life group the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement on Tuesday that she believed the order was a “bold action that will save lives.”

“The Biden administration would turn every post office and pharmacy into an abortion center if they had their way, leaving women alone and at risk of severe heavy bleeding, physical, emotional, and psychological stress, and more,” Dannenfelser said.

“States must take action. Governor Noem is setting a courageous model today that we hope more state leaders across the nation will soon follow.”

Kristin Hayward of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota said she believed the executive order wrongfully attacked abortion rights.

"Planned Parenthood will always stand up for patients and communities,” said Hayward, as reported by USA Today. “We know most South Dakotans support the right to safe, legal abortion, but Noem is following a vocal minority that is attacking abortion, contraception, and comprehensive sexual education in this country.”

In a medical abortion, women receive two drugs: mifepristone (also called Mifeprex or RU-486), which works by blocking the effects of the natural pregnancy hormone progesterone, and misoprostol, which is used to induce a miscarriage.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, pro-choice activists were pushing to make it legal for abortion clinics to dispense the drugs without an in-person doctor's appointment. 

In January, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law mandating that abortion-inducing drugs be taken in the presence of a physician, effectively banning telemedicine abortions.

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