South Dakota Abortion Info Law Heads to Appeals Court for Hearing

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 2, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Abortion Info Law Heads to Appeals Court for Hearing Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 2
, 2007

Pierre, SD ( — A South Dakota law to make sure women aren’t denied information from abortion facilities about abortion’s risks and alternatives is headed back to a federal appeals court this month. A hearing is scheduled and one pro-life group has filed legal papers saying Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be involved in the case.

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 informed consent law 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.

Planned Parenthood claimed making them tell women the truth about abortion’s problems would infringe on the free speech rights of abortion practitioners and filed suit against it.

Now the Family Research Council, a pro-life group, has filed a friend of the court brief in the case saying that the abortion business shouldn’t be allowed to represent South Dakota women at the appeals court because it stands to profit from the abortions they would have.

"Anyone truly concerned about the interests of women would support a woman having access to all the information necessary to make a fully informed decision," Jordan Lorence, an Alliance Defense Fund attorney representing FRC, told AP.

"Instead, the abortionists argue adamantly to restrict the information women have about the lives of their pre-born babies," he added.

Tim Branson, a lawyers who represents Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said other court rulings have allowed the abortion business to represent women.

"We believe we have standing not only to represent our physicians but also our patients. There are lots of court cases that have so held," Branson told the Associated Press.

A federal judge and a three judge panel of the 8th Circuit have already ruled that Planned Parenthood has standing in the case.

The panel let stand a federal injunction against implementing the changes but the full court agreed to rehear the case. As a result, the full 11-member court, based in St. Louis, will hear arguments later this month.

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, said previously. "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.