South Dakota Abortion Info Law Gets Second Chance at Appeals Court

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 10, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Abortion Info Law Gets Second Chance at Appeals Court Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 10
, 2007

Pierre, SD ( — A South Dakota law to make sure women aren’t denied information from abortion facilities about abortion’s risks and alternatives will get a second chance at a federal appeals court. The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals prevented changes in the law from going into effect last October but has agreed to a rehearing of the case.

The state legislature approved modifications to the bill in 2005 that would have abortion practitioners tell women that abortions end a human life and come with a plethora of medical and psychological problems.

But Planned Parenthood claimed making them tell women the truth about abortion’s problems would infringe on the free speech rights of abortion practitioners.

A three judge panel of the 8th Circuit let stand a federal injunction against implementing the changes but the court agreed Tuesday to rehear the case. As a result, the full 11-member court, based in St. Louis, will hear arguments on the case in April.

Attorney General Larry Long told the Associated Press he was "delighted" by the "rare" decision as federal appeals courts only rehear a case about two percent of the time.

After Planned Parenthood sued to stop the law, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier granted the injunction it sought. She issued the ruling saying she believed Planned Parenthood would prevail in its case and agreed that first amendment rights would be improperly trumped.

The state appealed the ruling, even though part of the case is still at the district court level.

The appeals court agreed on a 2-1 ruling and continued the injunction.

Two pregnancy centers joined the state as defendants in the case.

Alpha Center in Sioux Falls and Black Hills Crisis Pregnancy Center in Rapid City say they have a stake in the case because the women impacted by the law are considering an abortion and often come to the centers for more advice and information.

"When the pregnant mothers realize that abortion involves the termination of the life of a human being, they look at the procedure in a different light," Leslee Unruh, Alpha Center president, told the Associated Press. "It is not taken lightly and for most of the women this fact is of critical importance and leads them to search for other alternatives."

They also counsel women who have had abortions and say they were not well informed by the abortion centers beforehand.

Similar informed consent laws in other states have reduced the number of abortions and helped women in unplanned pregnancies fund local agencies that will help them.