This year the GOP-led South Dakota legislature passed a law requiring women seeking abortions to face a three-day waiting period — the nation’s longest — and undergo counseling at pregnancy “help centers” that discourage abortion. Recognizing that the law is an assault on women’s constitutional right to an abortion under Roe v. Wade, a federal judge granted an injunction in September to prevent the law from taking effect while it’s being challenged in Court. U.S. District Chief Judge Karen Schreier noted that the law creates an undue burden and would humiliate and degrade women.
Now South Dakota’s Gov. Dennis Daugaard is requesting more than $1 million in additional funds to defend the state’s anti-abortion law:
Next year’s South Dakota budget calls for more than a million dollars in supplemental funding for the state’s legal fund, including small fees for several high-profile cases but the potential for big expenses defending a controversial abortion law.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s budget proposal asks for the Legislature to add $1.043 million to the state’s Extraordinary Litigation Fund, which pays for legal costs above and beyond the ordinary.
Most of the Legislature’s projected costs come from two lawsuits: the 2005 Planned Parenthood vs. Rounds case over the state’s “informed consent” law, and ongoing “diligent enforcement” legal disputes with tobacco coverage. The state Office of Risk Management predicts the Planned Parenthood case to cost South Dakota $750,000 in Fiscal Year 2012, which runs through the end of June 2012.
Additionally, if South Dakota loses the lawsuit, it could be required to pay Planned Parenthood’s legal fees. When South Dakota lost another abortion case against Planned Parenthood several years ago, the state paid around $410,000 in legal fees.
As states are facing their worst budget crunches since the Great Depression, Republican-led governments have insisted on pushing conservative social agendas instead of focusing on pressing economic needs. In fact, they’ve exacerbated state budget deficits by passing anti-abortion laws that can cost millions for the state to defend but are rarely upheld in court. Kansas, for instance, has spent $2,180 of taxpayers money every day defending its anti-abortion laws.