South Dakota Planned Parenthood May Lose License, Fails to Follow Abortion Law

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Planned Parenthood May Lose License, Fails to Follow Abortion Law

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 12
, 2009

Sioux Falls, SD ( — Planned Parenthood operates the only abortion business in the state of South Dakota, but it is in danger of losing its medical license. That’s because state officials say the abortion center is not following a new law that requires it to inform women that the abortion will destroy the life of their 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 health department drafted a letter to the abortion business on August 7 saying that, during an inspection in May, it failed to properly inform women of the effects of an abortion.

The letter, according to an Argus Leader newspaper report, gives Planned Parenthood until August 22 to submit a plan to correct its failure to follow state law.

The abortion business says it doesn’t have to follow the law because it has filed a lawsuit asking a judge for an injunction to be able to leave women in the dark about what an abortion does.

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.

Both sides have presented their arguments in court but Judge Karen Schreier has yet to issue a ruling in the case.

The letter, the newspaper says, follows a meeting between Planned Parenthood and state officials on July 30. When the meeting failed to result in the abortion business agreeing to follow state law, officials acted.

“We knew if we didn’t reach an interim agreement with them then this would occur,” Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola told the paper. “It’s procedural, to an extent.”

After getting the letter, Planned Parenthood, on Tuesday, asked Judge Schreier for a temporary restraining order, which would prevent the state from making good on restricting its medical license.

The state has accused Planned Parenthood of not telling women "all known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors … including … depression and related psychological distress (and) increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide."

Planned Parenthood also did not make women considering an abortion aware that they "have an existing relationship with that unborn human being,” which is protected by law and that the abortion will terminate that relationship and those rights.

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.

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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