South Dakota Law on Abortions in Hospitals Gets Favorable Court Decision

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Law on Abortions in Hospitals Gets Favorable Court Decision

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 21, 2004

St. Louis, MO ( — A federal appeals court reversed a decision made by a judge in 2002 that overturned a South Dakota law requiring late-term abortions to be performed in hospitals.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier of Rapid City ruled that the law, requiring all abortions performed after 12 weeks into the pregnancy to be done in a hospital, is unconstitutional. Judge Schreier said it imposed an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.

However, three judges on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Schreier’s decision. They said she must hold further proceedings to determine whether the law is constitutional.

Judge Schreier and the 8th Circuit disagreed as to whether hospitals would be sufficiently available to perform late-term abortions. Many hospitals refuse to allow abortions to be performed in their facilities.

Pro-life groups, which support the law because it reduces the number of late-term abortions, applauded the appeals court decision.

"This decision was a victory for the state of South Dakota," Mary Spaulding Balch, a National Right to Life attorney, told

"It now gives them the opportunity — which the trial court originally denied them — to prove that the law [is constitutional]," Balch said.

Planned Parenthood, which operates the state’s only abortion facility, located in Sioux Falls, challenged the decades-old law.

Abortions are inherently dangerous and later-term abortions even more so. Since abortions are legal, late-term abortions should be performed in hospitals so women can be treated on-site when botched abortions occur, South Dakota lawmakers said when approving the law.