By Associated Press - Thursday, January 27, 2022

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A federal judge has temporarily halted a South Dakota rule from taking effect that would have made the state one of the hardest places in the U.S. to get abortion pills.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier late Wednesday granted a request from Planned Parenthood for a restraining order on a state Department of Health rule that was set to go into effect Thursday.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem initiated the rule change through an executive order. It would have required abortion-seekers to return to a doctor to receive the second of two drugs used to carry out medication abortion. Women have been able to receive both drugs in one visit, taking the second medication at home.

Abortion rights advocates said the rule change would have effectively ended access to medication abortions in the state. Noem has argued that the rule was necessary for women’s safety and has introduced a bill, currently being considered by the Legislature, to enshrine it into law.

Schreier, who was appointed under former President Bill Clinton, found that Planned Parenthood had shown the rule likely “imposes an undue burden on a person’s right to seek an abortion.”

A hearing on Planned Parenthood’s motion for a preliminary injunction is set for next week.

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