By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

SIOUX FALLS, February 12, 2008 ( – The South Dakota Senate rejected, by a vote of 22 to 12, a bill that would have removed legal protection from pharmacists who refuse to sell contraceptives because it violates their conscience.

“We are Americans. You don’t tell people they have to do something that violates their conscience,” said Sen. Jay Duenwald, R-Hoven.

Bill SB-164 proposed that a pharmacist’s refusal to sell a drug that violated his or her conscience constituted a “government intrusion” into people’s private lives by a “government entity.”

State law allows pharmacists to follow their conscience and refuse to dispense medication if they believe it would cause an abortion or “destroy an unborn child as defined in subdivision 22-1-2(50A),” which defines an unborn child as “an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.”

The defeated bill also attempted to change the definition of “unborn child”, by declaring, “Neither contraception nor birth control, as defined in section 1 of this Act, is subject to or governed by the provisions” in the existing statutes.

The Argus Leader quoted Sen. Tom Dempster, R-Sioux Falls, who said he supports access to birth control; nevertheless, he voted against the bill because no one presented any evidence that women are having trouble obtaining birth control in South Dakota.

Kimberly Martinez, Executive Director of Alpha Centre, a crisis pregnancy support agency, praised and thanked the senators who voted against the bill:

“We want to thank the senators who voted no on SB-164, in spite of being bullied to disregard South Dakota values and eccept an extreme worldview. SB-164, in addition to taking rights away from pharmacists, would have given children access to dangerous chemicals without the knowledge or consent of that child’s parents or their personal physician who knows them best.

“The key to reducing the number of unwed pregnancies and abortions in South Dakota is sexual integrity relationship education, which includes healthy decision making, healthy relationships and refusal skills. Contrary to what Planned Parenthood would have you believe, the key is NOT to allow children access to dangerous chemicals without the knowledge or consent of their parents and without valuable medical history information. All this does is give children permission to engage in high risk behaviors that have life long consequences.”