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Adoption services restriction is one step from final approval

PIERRE — State law already requires pregnant women seeking abortions to first visit a pregnancy care center that can't be affiliated with an abortion provider. A similar restriction might soon apply against affiliations with adoption services, too.

The state Senate could vote as early as this afternoon on the legislation. If the Senate gives final approval, HB 1180 will go to the governor for his decision whether to sign it into law.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee endorsed the measure 7-0 Wednesday.

The roles of the pregnancy care centers are to counsel, educate and assist, according to Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen. He is the bill's lead Senate sponsor.

"One of my definitions of neutral is you're not making money at it," he said.

Some people in the adoption business sought to be centers, too.

"That is a conflict of interest," Novstrup said. Planned Parenthood makes money from abortions and adoption agencies make money from adoptions, he said.

The 2011 state law requiring pregnant women to seek counseling at the pregnancy care centers is under challenge in federal court.

Novstrup said there are two pregnancy care centers in South Dakota, one in Rapid City and one in Sioux Falls.

"Basically what we're doing is a clean-up for 1217 (the 2011 legislation)," he said.

Abbie Peterson, executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, testified by telephone against the bill.

Peterson said the legislation doesn't place the same tight restrictions against adoption services as already are in law against abortion providers.

"This bill is nonsensical," she said.

The legislation would place the adoption-services prohibition in the same sections of the law regarding the abortion-services prohibition.

Novstrup said it's "more nonsensical" to be against legislation that moves "in the right direction."

House members approved the legislation 54-14 on Feb. 10.

Novstrup said the required counseling isn't taking place while the lawsuit slowly proceeds. He said a third center in Spearfish dropped out because of the lawsuit. He said he's been told five or six centers will open when the lawsuit is over.

Alpha Center at Sioux Falls and Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center of Rapid City are the two counseling centers on the state registry.

"This bill levels the playing field," Sen. Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, said.

Sen. Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge, said he was told to not submit legislation on the Indian Child Welfare Act this year because there is legal action under way.

"This bill is on my side and I'm pro-choice. You're going to eliminate the adoption. I would think you would want that available if you're pro-life," Bradford said. "So I can't be against the bill. But I don't understand this bringing bills that are in lawsuits."