The Daily Elephant

Kristi Noem Signs First “Med Ed” Bill

The governor of South Dakota, a member of the Republican Party, has approved a legislation designed to safeguard expectant mothers and clarify the legality of emergency abortions. Governor Kristi Noem asserts that abortion supporters have caused uncertainty, and she believes this measure will resolve it. Additionally, she urges other states to emulate her approach.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022, numerous states have implemented additional regulations on abortion. These laws typically incorporate provisions for emergency abortions in cases where a woman’s health is at risk. However, there appears to be confusion among many doctors regarding these exceptions. Pro-life organizations attribute this confusion to activists whom they accuse of disseminating inaccurate information.

In response to this dissemination of inaccurate information, South Dakota state representative Taylor Rehfeldt, a member of the Republican Party, proposed the bipartisan House Bill 1224, also known as the South Dakota Med Ed Bill, which received approval from the state legislature. 

On March 25, Governor Noem signed it into law. This legislation mandates the South Dakota Department of Health to develop educational resources, such as a video, aimed at educating medical professionals about the specifics of South Dakota’s abortion laws, with a particular emphasis on the exemptions permitting emergency care, including abortions, for pregnant women.

While South Dakota is the pioneer in enacting a “Med Ed” bill, Oklahoma and Kentucky, which enacted new abortion laws subsequent to the overturning of Roe v Wade, have provided comparable guidance through their attorneys general. Nonetheless, pro-life advocates are optimistic that other states will view HB 1224 as a prototype legislation. Kelsey Pritchard from SBA Pro-Life America urged states to emulate South Dakota’s approach in combating misleading abortion information.

However, not all are in favor of the Med Ed bill. The ACLU of South Dakota issued a statement in February when the bill progressed to the state senate, expressing its opposition. The organization argued that doctors do not require legal explanations and should be able to carry out their duties without political intervention. Additionally, the group’s advocacy manager emphasized that videos cannot replace medical expertise and raised concerns about pregnant individuals being endangered while hospital legal teams try to decipher the law.

Certainly, the primary objective of the Med Ed bill is to elucidate the law, thereby sparing hospitals the need to expend time deciphering its meaning. It appears that the majority of South Dakota legislators endorse this goal. Despite originating from the state’s Republican Party, Democratic representative Oren Lesmeister served as a co-sponsor, and the bill passed both chambers of the state legislature with minimal resistance.

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