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South Dakota GOP Gov Noem orders restriction on abortion medication, cites women's health and safety

Noem's announcement comes amid an effort by some fellow Republican governors to limit abortions. 

Updated: September 8, 2021 - 10:08am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has issued an executive order to restrict access to abortion medication and is making clear state law requires an in-person consultation with a physician before having a medicine-induced abortion.

The Republican governor on Tuesday directed South Dakota’s Department of Health to create rules that abortion-inducing drugs can be prescribed or dispensed only by a state-licensed physician after an in-person examination, according to the Associated Press

South Dakota law already places that requirement on doctors, but Noem's order was made in anticipation that the Food and Drug Administration later this year will allow abortion medications to be dispensed through the mail or virtual pharmacies, the wire service also reports. 

Noem's announcement comes amid an effort by some fellow Republican governors to limit abortions. 

Roughly 39% of abortions in South Dakota last year were done through medication, according to information the wire service acquired from the state heath department. 

Opponents of bans on telemedicine abortions say the method is safe, and outlawing them would have a disproportionate effect on rural residents who face long drives to the nearest abortion clinic.

Noem argues in her order that medicine-induced abortions can be life-threatening and that she made the order in the interest of women’s health and safety.

Under South Dakota law, physicians are already required to meet with a pregnant woman and perform an examination before scheduling a surgical or medical abortion.

Noem’s order blocks the drugs from being delivered through the mail or other delivery services and outlaws the drugs from being provided in schools or on state property. It also requires licenses for any clinics that only prescribe medicine for abortions and require more stringent reporting on medicine-induced abortions and any health complications related to them, also according to the wire service