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South Dakota
lawmakers reject condom restrictions

South Dakota
lawmakers reject condom restrictions

South Dakota's senate education committee on Tuesday rejected by 4-3 a measure that would have prohibited the distribution of condoms, birth control pills, and other contraceptives on public school property.

Republican state representative Keri Weems sponsored the bill, saying that it was in part a response to earlier testimony in a house committee that birth control had been distributed at school. Weems could not name a school where this had occurred but said that the measure was preventive in nature.

"This is a policy statement of what we don't want happening in our schools," Weems said. "We're here to set policy and not just rectify wrongdoing." Condoms can give teens a false sense of security, she said. "It is a preventive issue," agreed Republican state senator Eric Bogue.

"I think the bill is a solution looking for a problem," said Dick Tieszen, a Sioux Falls, S.D., school district lobbyist. He added that it is offensive to suggest contraception has been distributed at public schools.

His view was shared by a mother of four, Mary LaHood, who said, "I have yet to hear any evidence that this is a widespread problem or even a sporadic problem." Concerned parents, LaHood added, can always talk with teachers, counselors, or school officials.

"If it's truly a policy that's running amok, you have all the ability in the world to rectify it," said Sen. Ed Olsen, the committee chairman. "I have great faith in local schools to do what's right."

Though the measure had passed the house, its failure in senate committee effectively killed the bill. If passed, it would have carried a misdemeanor penalty for violations, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $500 in fines, said Bogue. (AP)

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