Injunction granted against abortion rule

PIERRE, SD — A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction against a South Dakota rule that would make the state one of the toughest places in the United States to obtain abortion pills.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier issued the injunction Tuesday night against a rule imposed by Republican Governor Kristi Noem that would have required abortion seekers to make three separate doctor visits to take abortion pills. Schreier previously issued a temporary restraining order last month to stop the state from enforcing the rule.

South Dakota women can get both drugs under the two-dose medical abortion regimen in one visit and take the second dose at home.

Schreier, who was appointed under former President Bill Clinton, granted Planned Parenthood’s request for an injunction, writing that the rule “probably places an undue burden on Planned Parenthood and its patients’ right to abortion.” .

Planned Parenthood, which operates the only clinic in the state that regularly offers abortions, argued the rule would have ended its ability to provide medical abortions.

“Medical abortion is safe, common and essential health care,” said Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood North Central States, in a statement. “It is imperative that everyone who decides an abortion is the best decision for them can access the care they need, when they need it.”

Last year, Noem issued an executive order to crack down on abortion pills in anticipation of the FDA permanently lifting the requirement that people seeking medication pick them up in person. The agency said scientific review supports expanding access, including no longer limiting their distribution to a small number of specialty clinics and doctors’ offices.

Noem argued that the FDA policy would put women seeking abortions at risk.

In fact, the FDA found that complications from the drug were rare. The FDA has only reported 26 deaths associated with the drug since 2000, although not all of them can be directly attributed to the drug due to existing health conditions and other factors.

Noem pushed a bill this year that would enact his rule into law. That bill has yet to be considered by lawmakers, but Republican lawmakers last week rejected a separate Noem proposal to further restrict abortion access.

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