Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and AG Marty Jackley wrote a letter to pharmacists in their state informing them that if they provide abortion drugs in their state, they may face felony charges.
The joint letter was written in response to the FDA’s announcement that it will certify retail pharmacies to administer popular drugs used in chemical abortions.
“In South Dakota, chemical abortions are still banned. Despite the recent FDA decision, pharmacies, including chain drug shops, are forbidden under South Dakota law from obtaining and administering abortion-inducing medicines with the intent to cause an abortion, and are susceptible to criminal prosecution under South Dakota law,” the letter added. “Their resources should be directed toward assisting women and their newborns both before and after birth.”
According to a statement issued from Noem’s office, with the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling in June 2022 to restore abortion regulations to individual states, South Dakota’s 2005 trigger legislation went into effect, making abortions illegal in the state except to preserve the mother’s life.
Last year, Noem announced the launch of a new website, Life.SD.gov, to promote “supporting moms and newborns before and after delivery” as part of the state’s pro-life efforts.
“All abortions, whether medically or chemically induced, end the life of a living human being,” Noem and Jackley wrote. “South Dakota will keep enforcing all laws, especially those that respect and defend the lives of the unborn,” the governor said. “We are confident that pharmacists conducting business in this state would follow the same approach on life.”
At least two other states, Alabama and Florida, have issued identical warnings to their pharmacists.
Following the FDA’s shift, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration issued a letter advising pharmacists against providing abortion pills, citing state law that says “no termination shall be carried out at any time unless done by a licensed physician.”
In Alabama, AG Steve Marshall even stated that women may be punished for utilizing abortion pills, despite the fact that the state’s statute exclusively criminalizes abortion providers and protects women who have abortions from punishment.
“The Human Life Protection Act has targeted abortion providers, exempting women ‘upon whom an abortion is done or attempted to be performed’ from legal accountability,” Marshall said to AL.com. “It does not grant a blanket exemption from all criminal statutes, including the chemical-endangerment legislation, which the Alabama Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld as protecting unborn infants.”
Following the FDA’s policy change earlier this month, President Joe Biden issued a presidential memorandum to ensure access to abortion pills to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling.
“My Administration is dedicated to ensuring safe access to mifepristone in accordance with current law and preserving women’s basic liberties,” Biden stated in a memorandum. “Defending and preserving reproductive rights is critical to our country’s health, safety, and growth. My Administration’s objective is to defend citizens who reside in this nation against threats to their freedom and autonomy.”
Following the FDA’s ruling on abortion pill access, a coalition of 22 attorneys general wrote to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, requesting that the agency reverse its decision. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall spearheaded the letter, which contended that the provision of abortion-inducing medications endangers women’s health.
“The FDA’s decision to jettison basic constraints on remotely prescribing and administering abortion-inducing medicines is both unlawful and hazardous,” the letter said. “In blatant contradiction of longtime FDA practice and congressional requirement, the FDA’s removal of essential safety regulations contradicts both women’s health and basic federal legislation. We strongly advise you to reconsider your decision.”