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South Dakota becomes most anti-choice state in the Union

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South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard

In an egregious move against women's reproductive rights, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a bill today that legally requires a seventy-two-hour waiting period for any woman seeking an abortion. While about half of the states in the U.S. have some sort of waiting period in place, most are twenty-four hours; South Dakota's will be the longest waiting period in the United States.

The usefulness of waiting periods is debatable. While, at first glance, they appear to question and undermine women's abilities to make their own health decisions, they also function as a way to prevent coercion by others. But a seventy-two hour waiting period is excessive and obviously designed to make obtaining an abortion as difficult as possible.

More appalling than the seventy-two-hour waiting period introduced by the bill is its requirement that abortion seekers receive counseling from pregnancy help centers. Pregnancy help centers are almost universally unlicensed, unaccredited, and religiously motivated centers that often misrepresent the health risks of abortions. To legally require a woman to visit one of these centers before undergoing an abortion procedure blatantly infringes on reproductive freedom by forcing her to engage with a biased source.

The Governor gave no interviews after signing the bill, but he did release a written statement:

I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives. I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.

Subjecting women to misinformation and holding them in an extended waiting period doesn't sound like encouraging them "to make good choices." It sounds like undermining their right to choice.