SD bill to regulate abortion-service ads killedPIERRE (AP) — A measure seeking to bar false advertising by pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions was rejected Thursday by a South Dakota House panel after abortion rights advocates and abortion opponents accused each other of misleading women.
By: CHET BROKAW, The Associated Press
PIERRE (AP) — A measure seeking to bar false advertising by pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions was rejected Thursday by a South Dakota House panel after abortion rights advocates and abortion opponents accused each other of misleading women.
In a show of strength by abortion opponents, the Health and Human Services Committee first amended the bill so it would have applied to abortion clinics, not to the pregnancy help centers that urge pregnant women to give birth. The panel then voted unanimously to kill the measure.
Committee members said South Dakota already has laws prohibiting false advertising, so there is no need for specific laws to apply to either abortion clinics or centers that discourage abortions.
"I just think South Dakota and federal law covers this," Rep. Melissa Magstadt, R-Watertown, said. "I don't see a need for another law when current ones take care of it."
Depending on the outcome of a federal court case, the pregnancy help centers could play a big role in how abortions are provided in South Dakota.
The Legislature last year passed a law requiring that women seeking abortions wait 72 hours and undergo counseling at one of the pregnancy help centers that discourage abortion. Planned Parenthood, which operates South Dakota's only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls, challenged the law in federal court, and the law has been suspended from taking effect until the case is decided.
The sponsor of the original bill, Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron, said some pregnancy help centers advertise that they provide abortion information, but only provide information on giving birth and adoptions. The bill would not have limited the operation or services provided by the centers, she said.
"The bill is about how they advertise themselves. I feel they are advertising themselves falsely and lead women astray," Gibson said.
Dr. Patricia Giebink of Chamberlain opposed the bill, saying it appears intended to shut down pregnancy help centers, sometimes called crisis pregnancy centers. She said women need the information and counseling provided by those centers.
Giebink said she once performed abortions at Planned Parenthood to perform abortions, but now volunteers at the Alpha Center, a Sioux Falls organization that provides help to pregnant women but opposes abortion.
"They provide top-quality care. They provide absolutely accurate information," Giebink said of the Alpha Center.
Giebink said the Legislature should not pass a bill regulating advertising by either abortion clinics or pregnancy health centers.
"What concerns me about both these bills is who defines the truth," Giebink said.
Stacey Wollman, director of the Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center in Rapid City, said the agency informs women of its Christian beliefs and does not perform abortions or refer women to abortion providers. The center gives free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, referrals to medical care and other services, and also provides counseling to women who have had abortions, she said.
But Alisha Sedor, of NARAL Pro-Choice of South Dakota, said some pregnancy help centers advertise that they provide information about abortion, but mainly work to persuade women not to get abortions.
"Crisis pregnancy centers should not be allowed to advertise services they do not provide," Sedor said.