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South Dakota Gets Failing Marks for Reproductive Rights

South Dakota is one of 19 states that earned failing grades in a new national scorecard on reproductive health care. (Population Institute)
South Dakota is one of 19 states that earned failing grades in a new national scorecard on reproductive health care. (Population Institute)
January 11, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. – 2015 was a challenging year for women's reproductive rights, and the new year is shaping up to be just as fierce.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take up two big cases on abortion and contraception in the coming months.

But a family planning advocacy group is arguing that some of the biggest challenges are coming in at the state level.

According to a state-by-state scorecard on reproductive health rights from the Population Institute, South Dakota is one of 19 states with a failing grade.

Jennie Wetter, the institute's public policy director, says South Dakota is falling short in several key areas.

"They have not expanded their Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, meaning there's a number of women in South Dakota who don't have access to expanded health coverage that could really use it," she points out.

The report notes that about 77 percent of women in South Dakota live in a county without an abortion provider.

Wetter says the state also has enacted so-called TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers), which restrict funding or access to reproductive service providers such as Planned Parenthood.

Additionally, South Dakota earned failing marks because the state has no mandate for sex education programs in public schools.

Wetter says changing this one issue could have several long-term benefits.

"So that they have the knowledge and skills to be able to lead healthy, productive lives,” she states. “Making sure that they don't get pregnant unintentionally, or don't get STDs or STIs."

South Dakota, however, did earn a near perfect score on the report for its relatively low rate of unintended pregnancies.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD