South Dakota Lawmaker Proposes Clarifying Bill For High-Risk Pregnancies

A South Dakota representative is proposing a bill to provide funding to better educate doctors and hospitals throughout the state in treating women with life-threatening conditions during pregnancy and their unborn child.

On Wednesday, Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt (R-SC) introduced the Medical Education Bill to authorize funding for the state Department of Health to explain better how the law is to be interpreted in cases where the mother’s life is at risk during pregnancy.

The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Jon Hansen (R-SD) and Sen. Erin Tobin (R-SD), is meant to protect the mother and unborn child’s well-being. It includes laying out the steps taken to treat pregnant women with life-threatening conditions, along with the criteria that the practitioner would take to determine the best treatment possible for mother and baby.

“Our laws have always protected moms and given them the ability to receive treatment for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy,” said Rehfeldt, clarifying the intent of the legislation. “South Dakota law has been consistent in that and, even now, with this bill, our laws are not changing.”

Rehfeldt has a doctorate in nursing and was a nurse anesthetist until 2021 when she took office.

Pregnant women and their unborn children are a topic that hits close to home for the representative. Rehfeldt has a history of carrying high-risk pregnancies. She even testified in Congress at four months pregnant, sharing the importance of expectant mothers having the assurance that doctors take every precaution necessary to protect their lives.

“No one wants to talk about a woman bleeding from pregnancy,” she said last year. “No one wants to talk about an infection that threatens her life and no one wants to talk about a case like mine, where I could have a clot that makes me disabled.”

Rehfeldt also emphasized how important it is for providers to have these conversations and educate pregnant women, stating that it is also part of her responsibility to educate. The bill would authorize $100,000 to create educational videos and materials for doctors to make the best decision for patients with high-risk pregnancies.

Last year, she tried to pass similar legislation but put it on the backburner when South Dakota Right to Life withdrew their support.

While pro-life groups did not support Rehfeldt’s previous bill, Kelsey Pritchard, the state public affairs director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, praised the new legislation.

“The South Dakota Med Ed Bill is a model for how states around the country can protect the health of moms by addressing the confusion caused by the abortion industry through explaining how state laws as written allow doctors to act,” she said. “This bill and any bill like it that protects women’s lives should have unanimous approval across the board by both Republicans and Democrats.”