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South Dakota Abortion Laws

You’re likely aware that abortion is a controversial topic. From a legal perspective, federal and state laws regulating when, how, where, and why abortions can be performed are many and differ from state to state. Determining what is required by abortion laws in your state and your constitutional rights can require thorough research. Here’s a brief summary of the abortion laws in South Dakota.

Abortion and the Supreme Court:

Certainly the most famous abortion case is Roe v. Wade. Decided in 1973, Roe held that the U.S. Constitution’s right to privacy guaranteed women a right to terminate their pregnancies. This right was and has remained limited. The Roe Court concluded that states could not regulate abortion during the first trimmest of pregnancy, that states could make reasonable regulations related to women’s health in the second trimester, and that states could prohibit abortions in the third trimester except when necessary to save the life or health of the mother.

Since then, the U.S Supreme Court has modified its abortion-related laws to make state restrictions easier and prohibit a specific abortion procedure called partial birth abortion. To this day, tension between federal courts and states over abortion regulations and restrictions remains commonplace.

The Supreme Court is currently considering a legal challenge to Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. A decision is expected in June 2022.

South Dakota Abortion Laws

South Dakota’s abortion law framework tracks Roe v. Wade’s trimester approach. The state permits abortion during the first trimester, permits abortion with some restrictions on facilities in the second trimester, and generally prohibits abortion in the third trimester unless medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. There’s also a state ban on partial birth abortion (in addition to a federal ban on the procedure).

More attention should be paid to state restrictions on performing abortions. Pregnant women seeking an abortion in South Dakota are required to:

  • Give voluntary, written informed consent to doctors;
  • Attend an initial consultation session with the performing doctor;
  • Receive detailed information about the procedure, its potential risks, and alternatives to abortion;
  • Attend a consultation at a state-registered pregnancy help center; and
  • Wait seventy-two hours between the initial consultation and the procedure.

South Dakota law further requires minors seeking an abortion to notify their parent or guardian forty-eight hours in advance. There’s an alternative option available, however. Minors can go to court and seek a judicial waiver. Finally, South Dakota protects any doctor or nurse who refuse to perform abortions.

Code Sections 34-23A-1, et seq.
Waiting Period? Yes, seventy-two hours (34-23A-56).
Parental Notice Requirement for Minors? Yes, forty-eight hour notice or else judicial waiver (34-23A-7).
Abortion Legal During First, Second, and Third Trimesters?

Legal during the first trimester (34-23A-3).

Legal in a hospital or medical office in the second trimester (34-23A-4).

Legal only to preserve life or health of the mother in third trimester (34-23A-5). 

State Ban on Partial Birth Abortion? Yes (34-23A-27). 

Related Resources for Abortion Laws

More details on state abortion law and general information about abortion can be found here in FindLaw’s Learn About the Law section. You can also find a South Dakota attorney to answer specific questions about an individual case.

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