September 9, 2021

South Dakota Gov. Signs Executive Order Banning Telemedicine Abortions

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R)
On Sept. 7, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order preventing doctors from using telemedicine to prescribe abortion pills. Instead, doctors in South Dakota will need to see women in person to prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol.

Before April 2021, the FDA required that women throughout the United States see doctors in person before being receiving prescriptions for the abortion pill regimen. The FDA "temporarily" lifted those requirements due to the pandemic, but pro-life advocates seem to be correct in doubting the Biden administration's intentions. The FDA has already announced plans to consider making permanent changes to how abortion drugs are prescribed. Those changes are expected to go into effect on November 1, 2021.

The FDA restrictions protected women by allowing doctors to confirm the gestational age of pregnancies and properly diagnose conditions such as ectopic pregnancy. If the unborn child's gestational age is older than the mother's guess, or if she has an ectopic pregnancy, going through with the abortion pill regimen can pose significant and deadly risks to the mother as well as her child.

The executive order demands that the South Dakota Department of Health adopt emergency rules including:
  • a requirement that physicians examine a pregnant mother in person before prescribing abortion pills
  • banning the distribution of abortion-inducing drugs via courier, delivery, telemedicine, or mail service
  • banning the distribution of abortion-inducing drugs in schools
  • requiring "pill only" clinics to obtain licenses in accordance with South Dakota's surgical abortion clinic licensing requirements
  • a requirement that the South Dakota Department of Health collects data on the frequency, complication rate, location, and sex trafficking context of the abortion pill