South Dakota Planned Parenthood Wants to Stop Law Telling Women Abortion Kills

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 21, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Planned Parenthood Wants to Stop Law Telling Women Abortion Kills

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 21
, 2009

Pierre, SD ( — Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and the Dakotas is asking a judge for an injunction to stop a law the South Dakota state legislature approved. It requires the abortion business to tell women before an abortion that the procedure will destroy a human life — that of an unborn child.

Specifically, Planned Parenthood is required to tell women, which it would not otherwise, that "the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

The state legislature approved modifications to the informed consent law in 2005 with that instruction and information on the plethora of medical and psychological problems associated with abortion.

But Planned Parenthood, which runs the only abortion business in the state in Sioux Falls, 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 the law.

State officials have warned the abortion business that it would be sanctioned if it did not follow the requirements of the law. That prompted Planned Parenthood’s latest request from a federal court for an injunction.

The move is the latest in a four-year legal battle Planned Parenthood has waged against the law.

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 for the temporary injunction and a three judge panel of the appeals court agreed on a 2-1 ruling and continued the injunction.

But then the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the injunction last July and the state began enforcing the law.

Now, the case itself is back before Schreier, who will rule on whether the law is constitutional. Planned Parenthood is requesting a decision for summary judgment in the case.

Because the state is enforcing the informed consent law now, the Argus Leader newspaper indicates state health officials emailed Planned Parenthood in March and warned of possible sanctions for violating it.

"Any abortion facility violating any of the provisions of (state law) places its abortion facility license at risk for suspension or revocation, Anthony Nelson, administrator of the state Office of Data, Statistics, and Vital Records, said in the e-mail.

Planned Parenthood submitted its informed consent reports for review in April and the state found they didn’t conform to the new law.

Kathi Di Nicola, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, told the newspaper she wants the judge to issue an injunction again so the law won’t be enforced until she rules on whether it is valid.

Assistant Attorney General John Guhin defended the law during the hearing before the appeals court.

"The Legislature became convinced women are not getting information about the unborn life within them," he said at the time.

"The really sad part is that it might be a husband, boyfriend, even parents" who pressured a woman to have an abortion and the state legislature wanted women to know they have a right to keep the baby, he added.

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

"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 find local agencies that will help them.

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