Roughly 110 South Dakota residents used a telemedicine abortion provider in 2022 to obtain medication abortion out of state, ultimately skirting the state’s total abortion ban, according to an Argus Leader report.
A telemedicine abortion provider based out of Minnesota called “Just the Pill” provided online consultations and prescriptions for abortion medication to residents of South Dakota. Women had to cross the state border for a consultation via phone and receive a tracking number for the medication abortion, “which they pick up a few days later and then return to South Dakota to take the pills,” according to the report.
South Dakota notably prohibits abortion “unless there is appropriate and reasonable medical judgment that performance of an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female.” The state had a trigger law from 2005 that took effect following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, making it a Class 6 felony for anyone “who administers to any pregnant female or prescribes or procures for any pregnant female” a means for an abortion, except to save the life of the mother. Violators could face two years in prison, a $4,000 fine, or both.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said that his office is monitoring the situation and that he expects South Dakota laws to be followed, according to the report. He also weighed the possibility of prosecuting someone providing telemedicine abortion services to South Dakota residents in different states.
“South Dakota law very clearly prohibits someone from procuring and dispensing abortion-inducing drugs,” he said. “If you aid and abet or you conspire or you actively participate in a criminal act, our reach can go beyond the state’s borders. Obviously, we don’t want to do that, but we’ve made our stance pretty clear.”
Just the Pill is a nonprofit that started in 2020 and mirrors “the telemedicine model of Aid Access, an overseas provider that saw a surge in requests for mail-order abortion pills when states started outlawing abortion,” the report states. The nonprofit charges $350 per patient, and saw about 1,300 women in 2021 and 3,000 in 2022. Just the Pill reportedly utilizes online pharmacies such as American Mail Order in Michigan and Honeybee Health in California.
“The organization offers services in not just Minnesota but Wyoming, Montana and Colorado, allowing residents from eastern and western South Dakota and North Dakota to get out-of-state care. Of the 110 South Dakota residents that used Just the Pill in 2022, 65 traveled across the border to Minnesota, 41 to Wyoming, three to Montana and one to Colorado,” according to the report.