What Some Pregnancy Centers Are Really Saying to Women With Unplanned Pregnancies - 2015-07-14
Three hundred fifty miles of cattle pasture and cornfields and single-stoplight towns separate Rapid City, near the western edge of South Dakota, from Sioux Falls, near its eastern border. That distance takes on new significance when a woman living in Rapid City needs an abortion.
The state's only abortion clinic is in Sioux Falls. In 2011, state lawmakers began requiring women to wait 72 hours between pre-abortion counseling and procedures. That means women who live in the state's western reaches must make four drives, totaling 24 hours, or be away from home for at least three days — weekends and holidays don't count toward the waiting period. Women pay for a hotel, miss school or work, find child care or bring kids. South Dakota doesn't have any doctors who do abortions; physicians fly in from surrounding states. With limited scheduling, the Sioux Falls Planned Parenthood is often booked weeks in advance.
In Rapid City one Thursday last summer, a 26-year-old bartender and student I'll call Nicole — her middle name — had a positive pregnancy test. Usually even-keeled, almost unflappable, Nicole says that afternoon, "I was just bawling." But as soon as she "got over the initial shock," she knew she wanted an abortion. She was committed to finishing school, and her boyfriend had recently moved to another state.