March 22, 2011— -- South Dakota became the first state in the country to require a woman seeking an abortion to visit a pregnancy help center first and submit to counseling to ensure her decision is "voluntary" and "informed."
Under the new law the woman must also wait at least 72 hours after completing the counseling before she can schedule an abortion, the longest waiting period in the nation. The law goes into effect on July 1.
"I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives," Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, said in a statement. "I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices."
A number of state proposals nationwide have targeted abortion this year, including laws passed in Ohio and Texas.
Read more about new abortion laws HERE.
Planned Parenthood announced it will file a lawsuit seeking to repeal the law.
Sarah Stoesz, the president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood's office for Minnesota and North and South Dakota, said the 3-day waiting period is a "callous" attempt to put another barrier in front of women seeking abortions. But the compulsory counseling at pregnancy crisis centers, she said, would be even worse.
"The centers are non-regulated, non-licensed, non-accredited, and they are not covered by HIPAA laws, or any other privacy law," said Stoesz. "Their sole focus is to dissuade women from having an abortion."
Planned Parenthood is the only provider of abortions in the state of South Dakota. In contrast to the pregnancy crisis centers, or help centers, Stoesz said the Planned Parenthood clinic is regulated, accredited, and subject to all laws concerning privacy.
The new South Dakota law would also require that women seeking abortions first meet and consult with the doctor who would perform the procedure. This would prove to be another hurdle for women in South Dakota, since Planned Parenthood's clinic performs abortions only once a week. The doctors who perform the abortions are flown in from Minnesota.
Republican Sen. Scott Brown Supports Family Planning
Planned Parenthood has been at the center of a funding battle in Washington. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted in February to strip funding for non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood. The organization receives federal aid for family planning and cancer screenings, but not abortion services.
But the proposal to fully de-fund Planned Parenthood seems doomed to fail in the Senate, where Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., today said he supports the organization.
"I support family planning and health services for women. Given our severe budget problems, I don't believe any area of the budget is completely immune from cuts," he said. "However, the proposal to eliminate all funding for family planning goes too far. As we continue with our budget negotiations, I hope we can find a compromise that is reasonable and appropriate."