Kristi Noem Signs First “Med Ed” Bill

( – South Dakota’s Republican governor has signed a bill aimed at protecting pregnant women and ending doubts over when emergency abortions are legal. Governor Kristi Noem (R) says abortion advocates have “sown confusion” — and this bill should end it. She also called on other states to follow her example.

New Laws Leave Doctors Confused

Since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v Wade in June 2022, many states have brought in new restrictions on abortion. All these laws include exceptions, allowing emergency abortions to be carried out if the woman’s health is in danger. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of doctors aren’t clear about that. Pro-life groups blame activists who, they say, have spread misinformation.

To counter this misinformation, South Dakota state representative Taylor Rehfeldt (R) introduced the bipartisan House Bill 1224, the South Dakota Med Ed Bill, which was approved by the state legislature. Noem signed it into law on March 25. The bill orders the South Dakota Department of Health to create informational materials, including a video, to inform medical professionals about what South Dakota’s abortion laws actually say — especially the exemptions allowing emergency care, including abortions, for pregnant women.

Although South Dakota is the first state to pass a “Med Ed” bill, Oklahoma and Kentucky — which also brought in new abortion laws after Roe v Wade fell — have issued similar guidance through their attorneys general. However, pro-life activists hope other states will treat HB 1224 as a model bill. Kelsey Pritchard of SBA Pro-Life America called on states to “look to South Dakota in combatting dangerous abortion misinformation.”

Abortion Advocates Oppose Education

Not everyone is pleased with the Med Ed bill, though. The ACLU of South Dakota released a statement in February, when the bill advanced to the state senate, saying it opposed the legislation because “Doctors don’t need legal explainers… they need to be able to do their jobs without political interference.” The group’s advocacy manager added that videos are no substitute for medical experience, and complained that “pregnant people” are “at risk while hospital lawyers attempt to interpret the law.”

Of course, the whole point of the Med Ed bill is to clarify the law so hospitals don’t need to waste time working out what it means. It seems most South Dakota legislators support that aim. Although the bill came out of the state’s Republican Party, Democrat representative Oren Lesmeister was a co-sponsor, and it passed both chambers of the state legislature with little opposition.

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