South Dakota Abortion Information Law Blocked by Federal Judge

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 1, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Abortion Information Law Blocked by Federal Judge Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 1, 2005

Pierre, SD ( — A South Dakota law that provides women considering abortions with information about its risks and alternatives has been blocked by a federal judge who claims it violates the free speech rights of abortion practitioners.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier of Rapid City temporarily halted enforcement of the law and said Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, which filed the lawsuit seeking to overturn it, had a good chance of winning its case.

"The South Dakota statute requires abortion doctors to enunciate the state’s viewpoint on an unsettled medical, philosophical, theological and scientific issue, that is, whether a fetus is a human being,” Schreier wrote.

Her decision grants the abortion businesses’ request for a temporarily injunction while the lawsuit moves through the court system.

Attorneys for the state of South Dakota argued that the information given to women is scientifically and medically accurate and that similar laws have been found constitutional in state and federal courts elsewhere.

Dr. Carole Ball, who performs abortions at the state’s lone abortion facility in Sioux Falls, told Schreier that the contents of the brochure women would get "are statements of ideology and opinion, not medicine or fact."

But state attorneys presented numerous affidavits from doctors, scientists and counselors who said the information was factual.

Schreier set an October date for a hearing on Planned Parenthood’s request for a permanent injunction.

She indicated the state could tell women that it prefers childbirth over abortion and to provide her information about fetal development, but she indicated women should to be informed in the state’s brochure about medical or psychological risks of abortion because abortion advocates dispute such risks.

The state information would also tell women considering an abortion that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

HB 1166, approved by an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the state legislature, was set to become law today.