An internal memo from Sanford Health System lawyers indicating that the proposed abortion ban in South Dakota could have serious legal implications for hospitals was leaked on Wednesday. The abortion ban initiative, Measure 11 (see PDF), would amend the state constitution, “prohibiting abortions except in cases where the mother’s life or health is at risk, and in cases of rape and incest.” If approved by voters, this law would severely limit access to abortion.
The Sanford memo (see PDF) states, “Initiated Measure 11, if approved, will have substantial legal implications for Sanford Health and its providers ….for those instances where a pregnant woman faces uncertain, but potentially very serious health risks, Initiated Measure 11 will require a physician to choose between possibly committing a felony or subjecting a pregnant woman to a higher degree of medical risk than what would otherwise be clinically desirable.”
According to the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families the memo “proves there is no exception for fatal fetal anomalies. And, it points out that criminal liability will extend beyond just doctors in South Dakota. Any person involved in the procedure would be in violation [including] doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees.”