Abortion terms you need to know as South Dakota reckons with overturn of Roe v. Wade

·6 min read

Since the Dobbs v. Jackson case was decided upon by the U.S. Supreme Court, overturning 50 years of abortion access for pregnant Americans, there's been a lot of terms related to the discussion of abortion and reproductive health in the news.

But what's the difference between a medicated abortion, a surgical abortion and a self-managed abortion? And what do these definitions mean to this state? Exactly how are pregnant people defined in South Dakota, under law?

Abortions, with the exception of when the life of the mother is in danger, are illegal in South Dakota.

More: Abortion is now illegal in South Dakota. Here's what you need to know.

Though not exhaustive, below is intended to be a helpful guide to abortion-related vocabulary terms, so you may better understand the issue at hand.

If there's a word or definition you think needs to be added to this list, please reach out to atodd@argusleader.com for us to update.

How is a pregnant person defined and identified in South Dakota?

According to state statute, a woman can become pregnant in the state. The definition of a woman is, "a female human being whether or not she has reached the age of majority," under the law.

Why do I keep seeing 'pregnant person' or 'pregnant people?'

Not everyone who has the ability to get pregnant identifies as a woman.

By using the phrases "pregnant person" or "pregnant people," it's more inclusive to people's lived experiences.

According to the Associated Press style guide, which is the standard book of grammar used by professional media outlets nationwide, the use of those phrases "takes into account minors, transgender men and nonbinary people," but the latest guidance as of May says to only use "pregnant people" in stories that "specifically address the experiences of people who do not identify as women, when discussing work or activism that includes such people."

Terms about abortion

Surgical abortion: Care provided to a pregnant individual that includes either a suction aspiration or D&C abortion during the first trimester, or a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure during the second trimester at a clinic, according to the University of California Los Angeles.

Medicated abortion: Care provided to a pregnant individual using two pills during the first 10 weeks of their pregnancy. A doctor can either prescribe the pills during an in-person visit or through a telehealth consultation. A majority of abortions in 2020 were medicated abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion data.

More: Had there been an abortion special session, SD Democrats wanted exception for rape, incest

Mifepristone and Misoprostol: FDA-approved pills used in medicated abortions. While the pills are not banned in South Dakota, the practice of a physician prescribing them in the state is. Research has shown these pills are safe and effective.

Self-managed abortion: A pregnant individual managing their own abortion outside of a clinical setting, according to Plan C, an online abortion information database. This includes buying abortion pills via an online pharmacy. Self-managed abortions are not specifically addressed in South Dakota statue, but states like Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Nevada have laws addressing them.

More: Will Sioux Falls doctors be charged for performing abortions? Here's what we know.

Other related terms to know:

Plan B: Known as "the morning after pill," the Plan B pill is an emergency contraception pill that a person who has a chance of getting pregnant can take up to three days after unprotected sex. A person doesn't need a prescription to get the pill, according to Plan B's website.

Plan C: An online resource dedicated to providing information about abortions.

Ectopic pregnancy: When a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube, but can also occur in the ovary or the cervix. The fertilized egg cannot survive and then develops into a life-threatening condition for the pregnant person.

Miscarriage: The spontaneous loss of a pregnancy up to the 20th week, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. Some people may suffer a miscarriage without knowing they were pregnant.

Tubal ligation: Known as having "your tubes tied," it is a permanent birth control mechanism for people with uteruses. During the procedure, a person's fallopian tubes are either cut, tied or blocked to prevent an egg from traveling from the ovaries to the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Hysterectomy: Removes the uterus from the body and with that, a person's chance at getting pregnant, according to the Cleveland Clinic. On average, about 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the U.S. every year, according to the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts. Hysterectomies were used throughout the 20th century and as recently as 2020 as part of forceful sterilization campaigns targeting communities of color and those with physical and mental health issues, according to the National Women's Health Network.

Vasectomy: A form of male birth control that cuts off the supply of sperm to semen, preventing pregnancy, according to Mayo Clinic. The procedure involves cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm.

Uterus: A part of the reproductive system for people assigned female at birth, where a fertilized egg implants during pregnancy. The uterus is commonly referred to as the womb, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It's also responsible for a person's period.

Fallopian tube: A tube connecting a person's ovaries to their uterus, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Eggs from the ovaries travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus as part of a person's menstrual cycle. It's also the place where fertilizations happens when sperm meets an eggs. An ectopic pregnancy can happen in the fallopian tube.

What are the South Dakota abortion-related groups or resources to know?

Planned Parenthood: A nationwide non-profit offering health and reproductive care, including birth control, cancer screenings and abortions. The Sioux Falls location offers primary care, STD testing, birth control, including the morning-after pill and mental health services. The location stopped offering abortion services a week prior to the court's decision.

Alpha Center: One of two pregnancy help centers in South Dakota, based in Sioux Falls. They provide counseling, pregnancy testing and ultrasounds to pregnant people. They also offer STD testing.

More: Anti-abortion groups have worked to overturn Roe v. Wade. Now victorious, what's next?

Right to Life: The oldest nationwide anti-abortion organization founded in 1968. The group lobbies nationally and statewide.

JEN: The largest and only abortion fund in South Dakota, the Justice Empowerment Network, is a non-profit dedicated to making abortion accessible to South Dakotans. That includes fundraising and providing financial help for pregnant people traveling across state lines to access abortions.

More: How South Dakota abortion access could change if SCOTUS overrules Roe v. Wade

South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families: A non-profit organization dedicated to reproductive freedom. SDCHF started in 2006 in response to an abortion ban signed into law by then Governor Mike Rounds. The organization was able to form and collect signatures that required the ban to be voted on by the people. The ban failed.

Strong South Dakota Families: An online resource site for South Dakota families looking for information on nutrition for babies, help accessing education and medical care.

Stronger Families Together: A state campaign to "recruit, prepare and support foster and adoptive families." The website offers information on how to become a foster parent and resources.

Life.sd.gov: A state website offering resources for pregnant mothers looking for more information about financial assistance, pregnancy and adoption.

Follow Annie Todd on Twitter @AnnieTodd96. Reach out to her with tips, questions and other community news at atodd@argusleader.com or give her a call at 605-215-3757.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: A guide to abortion terms as they relates to South Dakota