A bill introduced in the South Dakota House of Representatives would ban abortions after seven weeks of pregnancy.
The measure is one of the country's toughest abortion restrictions, right next to North Dakota’s six-week ban.
HB 1241 only vaguely addresses the week at which abortions can no longer be performed. Instead it targets “partial-birth” abortion procedures, which no clinics in South Dakota perform anyway, RH Reality Check reported.
Lawmakers are calling it a ban on “gruesome” abortions in the second trimester, which doesn’t begin until the 13th week of pregnancy.
It seeks to “prohibit the dismemberment or decapitation of certain living unborn children,” ThinkProgress reported.
The bill makes it a Class 2 felony for a doctor to perform an abortion in which a living fetus is dismembered. If convicted, a doctor would face up to 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
“It just makes clear that a certain procedure that is totally horrific and gruesome to any reasonable person would not be an acceptable method of ending a child’s life, and that is to dismember or decapitate a living, unborn child,” said Rep. Isaac Latterell, R-Tea.
Procedures like the one described, called intact dilation and extraction, are only used during late term abortions and it has a low rate of use, representing only 0.17 percent of all abortions in the U.S. in 2000.
Pro-choice groups say the bill is another way to slip in new restrictions on women’s reproductive rights.
“Even after South Dakota voters rejected efforts to ban abortion in 2006 and again in 2008, some legislators continue to pile restriction after restriction on a woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions,” the South Dakota Campaign for Health Families said in a statement. “Politicians in the South Dakota Legislature are intent on continuing to make it even more difficult for a woman to access reproductive health care.”