Judge blocks South Dakota rule that prevents medical abortions

Planned Parenthood Ohio supporters sing at a pro-choice rally as U.S. Supreme Court justices hear arguments in the Mississippi abortion rights case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in Cincinatti, Ohio, U.S., December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Megan Jelinger

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Jan 26 (Reuters) – A federal judge in South Dakota on Wednesday temporarily blocked a new state health department rule that makes it harder to access a medical abortion.

Planned Parenthood sought the injunction against South Dakota’s measure, which was first part of an executive order issued last September by Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican.

Judge Karen Schreier wrote in her ruling that Planned Parenthood showed South Dakota had created a “substantial obstacle” in the way of women seeking medical abortions.

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Noem’s decree required that the two drugs used in mediated abortions both be administered by a medical provider. Typically, a woman received the first medication at a provider’s office and received the second medication at the same time, with instructions to take it 24 to 72 hours later.

Since the Planned Parenthood office in Sioux Falls is the only one offering abortions in the state, and many women travel long distances to get to its office, requiring them to make repeat visits could impose an undue burden. to many women, the judge wrote in her restraining order.

The legal battle over abortion in the United States has become increasingly tense in recent months. In December, the Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, heard arguments in Mississippi’s bid to revive its 15-week ban on abortions.

The conservative justices then indicated that they were open to gutting or completely overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy before the fetus was viable. A decision is due at the end of June.

In December, the federal government permanently relaxed some restrictions on drugs used in abortions up to 10 weeks pregnant, allowing the drug to be mailed rather than requiring it to be delivered in person. However, 19 states have laws that override the FDA’s decision banning telehealth consultations or sending abortion pills.

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Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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