Celebration and concern as South Dakota trigger law severely restricts abortion

A collection of students stand with signs outside.
About a dozen young people protested the court's decision at a popular intersection in downtown Sioux Falls Sunday afternoon and evening.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

At a busy intersection Sunday afternoon in downtown Sioux Falls, S.D., a dozen young adults waved homemade signs decrying the U.S. Supreme Court decision which triggered South Dakota’s abortion ban.

Some passing cars sounded their horns. The protesters cheered every sign of support.

A man stands for a photograph
52-year-old Martin Ochoa said the justices did the right thing. “It’s a human they’re killing you know? That's not right."
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Earlier in the day 52-year-old Martin Ochoa and his family took in a beautiful summer day in a city park along the Big Sioux River. He said the justices did the right thing.

“It’s a human they’re killing you know? That's not right. Legalized abortion, it's like you’re killing with no weapons. We have to save life,” he said. “If you didn't want to have a baby, make sure to use protections.”

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Like several other states South Dakota had a law ready and waiting for the Supreme Court to act.

On Friday Republican Gov. Kristi Noem called for a special session to strengthen the state’s abortion ban even more following the Supreme Court ruling. On national TV Sunday morning she said she wants to further curb the use of so-called abortion pills. A date has not yet been set for the special session.

Two people stand for a photograph outside.
Cathy and Len Ivory were also at the park in Sioux Falls. They live in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Both support the Supreme Court decision but Len (left) has concerns about government overreach.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Cathy and Len Ivory were also at the park in Sioux Falls. They live in Aberdeen, S.D., and welcomed the high court ruling.

“We've been fighting for it for such a long time," said Cathy. "And there just seems like there's just so much — it sounds kind of crazy — but almost so much death anymore. And people get away with that. And I just I think when a child is conceived, it's conceived. It's a human being.”

“I agree with her up to the point. I, personally, am a pro-life person.” said Len. However he admits he’s turning over parts of the situation in his mind. “I'm still struggling with the government saying ‘this is what you will do and this is what you will not do.’”

A few blocks away 61-year-old Scott Brekke was fishing in a city lake. He too supports the ban.

“Killing babies is wrong,” he said, and then briefly paused. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean here to put it quite like that. But it's wrong.”

Yet Brekke said he’s worried denying women the right to abortion will have dire consequences.

“Definitely pro-life, but now I have concerns about are we slipping back into the 30s and 40s,” he said. “Where are these ladies going to go? The problem didn't go away. It's still there. What's going happen now?”

A woman sits with a young daughter
36-year-old Meghan Cicairos had not yet heard about the Supreme Court decision but was quick to voice her disappointment with the development.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Not far from Brekke’s fishing spot 36-year-old Meghan Cicairos pushed her baby in a stroller down the sidewalk. She had not yet heard about the Supreme Court ruling and the resulting changes in her home state. But she was quick to voice her disappointment.

“People who have fewer resources are always going to be more impacted by the decisions of the Supreme Court when they illegalize things because they don't have as many options,” she said.

In another Sioux Falls neighborhood the court decision was also news to Abraham Yol. But he said it was the right decision.

“In front of God it is something great to avoid abortion,” he said. “Yes, I agree with that one.”

In the downtown entertainment district Lisa Carlson said abortion should be every woman’s right.

”It's a big deal. I mean, I'm no longer of the age where I would have kids, but it's still a really big deal in my lifetime,” she said. “I would have never guessed that this would be happening. And it's a big deal, it makes women feel somewhat like second-class citizens so that's a big deal.”

A woman stands in front of an evergreen tree.
26-year-old Korrah Williams deplores the high court’s decision which she says has stripped her of fundamental rights and troubled her deeply. So much so that she says she and some of her friends are considering leaving South Dakota.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Also in downtown Sioux Falls, 26-year-old Korrah Williams said she works nearby in the mortgage division of a large national bank. She said the high court’s decision stripped her of fundamental rights. She says she and some of her friends may leave South Dakota.

“We have to now consider where we live because depending on how some states vote that might not go along with what you agree with,” she said. “And it sucks that I might have to in a couple of years maybe decide to leave here, because it's not something I'm here to support.”

Williams applauds the growing list of corporations offering to help employees with travel costs if they can’t get access abortion services in the state they live. She hopes more companies will follow suit.

States where abortion remains legal, including Minnesota, are readying for an influx of new patients from states that can now outlaw abortion.