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South Dakota anti-abortion law breaks new ground

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signs a law that requires a woman seeking an abortion to wait three days and to visit an anti-abortion counseling center. Critics say it is unconstitutional, proponens say it is common sense.

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South Dakota today became the first state in the country to require women seeking an abortion to visit anti-abortion counseling centers.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) signed legislation that is precedent-setting in several ways. It also mandates a 72-hour waiting period – the longest in the country – and requires two visits to a physician and a screening for risk factors, in addition to the visit to a pregnancy crisis center.

“I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives,” Governor Daugaard said in a written statement. “I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.”

Planned Parenthood announced before the bill was signed that it would file a lawsuit.

“The 72-hour waiting period coupled with having to go to a crisis pregnancy center whose very mission is to dissuade women from going through with an abortion has grave constitutional concerns for us,” says Kathi Di Nicola, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota.

The measure is among the most restrictive abortion-related bills to come before today's state legislatures. While state-level curbs on abortions have been growing steadily since 1995, the more-Republican makeup of many legislatures voted into office in November has increased the likelihood that many such measures will become law, says Donna Crane, policy director at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

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