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South Dakota governor issues order restricting abortion medications

South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. (John Raoux/AP)

South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) on Tuesday issued an executive order restricting telemedicine abortions and abortion medications, days after she called for a review of the state’s abortion laws.

The order mandates that abortion medication can be prescribed or dispensed only after an in-person examination by a doctor licensed in South Dakota. It also bans abortion medication from “being provided via courier, delivery, telemedicine, or mail service,” as well as on state grounds or in schools.

Social conservatives like Noem have been emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decision last week to not block a Texas law banning abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, or before many people know they are pregnant. In Texas, another bill that has been sent to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for his approval also restricts abortion medications.

The Texas law, which does not provide exceptions for rape or incest, relies on private citizens to sue people who aid women in getting a prohibited abortion. That legal intricacy has allowed it to circumvent the guarantee in the landmark Roe v. Wade case that women have a right to end their pregnancies before viability, and that states may not impose undue burdens on that decision, abortion rights advocates say.

This fall, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over a ban on most abortions in Mississippi; its decision could overturn Roe, some antiabortion activists say.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll in May, 63 percent of Americans agree with the ruling in Roe.

As GOP officials across the United States seek to restrict abortion, Mexico’s supreme court voted Tuesday to decriminalize the procedure — a dramatic move in a country with one of the world’s largest Catholic populations.

Noem was not the only Republican who followed Texas’s lead on abortion laws in recent days. GOP officials in at least six other states, including Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina, have moved to review or amend their laws.

The governor’s executive order comes as Republicans began jostling for the 2024 presidential nomination. Noem, widely seen as a potential candidate, has used the coronavirus pandemic to tout her policies — characterized by an absence of mandates — as the most aligned with conservative principles.