South Dakota Right to Know Abortion Bill Gets Backing From Pro-Life Legal Group

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 25, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Right to Know Abortion Bill Gets Backing From Pro-Life Legal Group

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 25
, 2010

Pierre, SD ( — A pro-life legal group filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit asking the court to reject Planned Parenthood’s attempt to block a South Dakota law. The informed consent law is designed to help persuade women to consider positive alternatives to abortion.

The law requires the state’s lone abortion center, run by Planned Parenthood, to detail the links between abortion and the increased risk of depression and suicide.

The Alliance Defense Fund brief seeks to overturn a lower court’s decision that abortion providers in South Dakota are not required to inform women of these risks.

The brief argues that Planned Parenthood does not have the legal right to bring its lawsuit because it actively works to keep the truth about abortion from mothers.

The brief also asks the court to reverse a portion of a lower court ruling that struck down a part of the law that required doctors to inform women that they are terminating a legally protected relationship with an “unborn human being.” The judge concluded that pre-born children are not “persons.”

“A child’s life is worth more than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden.

He continued: "The proponents of death work diligently to restrict the information mothers have about the life within them. Women need to know all the facts about abortion because it’s not a one-time event; women have testified, and research shows, that aborting a child is an ongoing, painful struggle with guilt and doubt. It’s incredible for the court to have determined that the law cannot acknowledge that a ‘pregnant woman has an existing relationship with that unborn human being’ because some human beings are somehow not ‘persons.’”

In 2005, the South Dakota Legislature passed House Bill 1166, which revised state law to require that women be given critical biological, relationship, and medical information before undergoing an abortion.

Planned Parenthood, the operator of the state’s only abortion center, in Sioux Falls, filed to suit to block implementation of the law. After the 8th Circuit lifted a lower court injunction against the law, it was returned to federal district court.

In August 2009, Judge Karen Schreier of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, Southern Division, ruled that portions of the law requiring doctors to inform women contemplating abortion that they are terminating a human life are constitutional.

But, she also ruled that other portions requiring doctors to tell women of their legally protected relationship with the preborn child and warning them of the documented risks of depression and suicide from abortion were unconstitutional.

ADF attorneys authored and filed the brief in Planned Parenthood v. Rounds on behalf of the Family Research Council, CareNet, Heartbeat International, and The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.

ADF-allied attorney Harold Cassidy, representing a group of pregnancy centers that successfully intervened in the lawsuit to protect the interest of women, filed the appeal to the 8th Circuit.

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