In a letter to pharmacists on Tuesday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) and state Attorney General Marty Jackley warned that dispensing abortion pills is a felony.
Despite the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new rule around the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone, nothing has changed regarding South Dakota’s abortion ban. The governor made sure to let pharmacists know that giving out the dangerous drug is illegal.
“In 2022, the United States Supreme Court held that there is no federal constitutional right to an abortion. In doing so, all abortions became illegal in the State of South Dakota, except those necessary to save the life of the mother. This prohibition includes chemical abortions,” the letter read. “In South Dakota, any person who administers, prescribes, or procures for any pregnant female any medicine or drug with the intent to induce an abortion is guilty of a felony.”
The letter was sent in response to the FDA’s rule change in early January that allowed retail pharmacies to begin selling mifepristone, the first pill used in a two-drug medication abortion regimen. While pharmacists will be allowed to dispense the drug thanks to the Biden administration, patients will still need to obtain a prescription from a certified healthcare provider.
The FDA’s rule change was even more shocking, considering the fact that the agency refused the in-person requirement for mifepristone — meaning that women will be able to receive a prescription via telemedicine.
After the FDA made the change, spokespeople from Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid announced that their pharmacies will sell the abortion pills where they are legal.
Meanwhile, South Dakota has banned all abortions except those to save the life of the mother. The ban, which came thanks to a trigger law passed in 2005, went into effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.
In their letter, Noem and Jackley argued that the FDA had changed the rule to “evade the pro-life evolution of the law” — warning that the new rule “permits dangerous, at-home abortions without any medical oversight.”
“Mifepristone, sold under the brand name Mifeprex, when used in conjunction with Misoprostol, is an abortion-inducing drug. This side-stepping on the part of the FDA permits dangerous, at-home abortions without any medical oversight. It also violates state law that makes dispensing this medication for abortions a felony,” the letter continued, adding that “their resources should be focused on helping mothers and their babies, both before birth and after.”
“All abortions, whether surgically or chemically induced, terminate the life of a living human being. South Dakota will continue to enforce all laws including those that respect and protect the lives of the unborn. We trust pharmacists doing business in this state will take the same approach to respecting life,” the letter concluded.