South Dakota Threatens Felony Charges for Pharmacists Prescribing Abortion Pills

All six states that share a border with South Dakota additionally limit abortion entry in various levels.

South Dakota’s Republican governor and lawyer common on Tuesday issued a threatening letter directed on the state’s pharmacists in response to a current transfer by the Biden administration to ease restrictions on shelling out abortion drugs amid the GOP’s nationwide assault on reproductive freedom.

Gov. Kristi Noem and AG Marty Jackley’s letter begins by noting that after Dobbs v. Jackson Ladies’s Well being Group, the U.S. Supreme Courtroom ruling that reversed Roe v. Wade final 12 months, abortion turned unlawful in South Dakota besides to save lots of the lifetime of the pregnant particular person. It’s one in every of 14 states the place abortions are actually largely unavailable.

The letter states that “in South Dakota, any one who administers, prescribes, or procures for any pregnant feminine any drugs or drug with the intent to induce an abortion is responsible of a felony.”

In a coverage change lengthy advocated by medical consultants and rights campaigners, the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month formalized a regulatory change to permit retail pharmacies within the U.S. to dispense mifepristone, one in every of two medicine usually taken in tandem for a medication abortion.

Referencing that improvement, the letter says that “below South Dakota legislation, pharmacies, together with chain drug shops, are prohibited from procuring and shelling out abortion-inducing medicine with the intent to induce an abortion, and are topic to felony prosecution below South Dakota legislation, regardless of the current FDA ruling.”

As The Related Press reported Tuesday:

The [FDA’s] change might broaden entry at on-line pharmacies. Folks can get a prescription by way of telehealth session with a well being skilled after which obtain the drugs by way of the mail, the place permitted by legislation.

Nonetheless, in states like South Dakota, the rule change’s affect has been blunted by legal guidelines limiting abortion broadly and the drugs particularly. Authorized consultants foresee years of court docket battles over entry to the drugs as abortion rights proponents convey take a look at circumstances to problem state restrictions.

Amanda Bacon, the director of the South Dakota Pharmacists Affiliation, mentioned in an electronic mail that she was not conscious of any South Dakota pharmacies with plans to take part within the federal program to dispense abortion drugs.

The professional-choice Guttmacher Institute, which tracks insurance policies throughout the nation, labels all six states that border South Dakota as restrictive of abortion entry to varied levels — and South Dakota is among the many dozen “most restrictive” states within the nation.

For the reason that Dobbs determination, states with pro-choice insurance policies — particularly these like Illinois, which is surrounded by states with abortion restrictions — have seen an inflow of “healthcare refugees.”

Whereas the FDA’s current transfer was broadly seen as a step towards assuaging among the pressure on clinics attempting to serve a rising variety of sufferers fleeing states with forced-birth insurance policies, an ongoing authorized battle over the company’s preliminary approval of mifepristone in 2000 might jeopardize entry to the drug nationwide.

Anti-choice physicians final month requested Decide Matthew Kacsmaryk — appointed by former President Donald Trump to the U.S. District Courtroom for the Northern District of Texas — to throw out the FDA’s 2000 determination. The choose, who was previously the deputy common counsel at a conservative Christian authorized advocacy group, could situation a ruling as quickly as February 10.

If the Christian alliance that launched the assault on the FDA approval “wins in federal district court docket, the Biden administration would attraction to the fifth Circuit in New Orleans, a conservative court docket with 12 of its 16 energetic judges appointed by Republicans,” CNBC pointed out Tuesday. “From there, the case might find yourself on the Supreme Courtroom.”