The Planned Parenthood corporation that hires physicians to do abortions at its Sioux Falls, S.D., branch lacks standing to argue against a state disclosure law, because it is the patients’ rights that are impacted, not the rights of the company, a brief has argued.
A brief filed with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the corporation’s interests actually conflict with those of the patient in many respects, because if a woman chooses not to have an abortion at Planned Parenthood, the company doesn’t get paid.
The friend-of-the-court brief has been filed by Alliance Defense Fund in a case in which Planned Parenthood originally challenged a newly adopted South Dakota law requiring disclosure of accurate information to mothers-to-be seeking abortions.
The South Dakota law is far more strict than other regulatory provisions. It allows a woman who alleges she was not provided with the proper informed consent to sue for damages. It allows a prosecutor to pursue criminal charges against a physician who fails to provide the proper informed consent. It also allows the state to investigate and act against the license of any facility where the requirements for such informed consent are not met.
The 8th Circuit previously concluded the U.S. Supreme Court allows a state to “use its regulatory authority to require a physician to provide truthful, non-misleading information relevant to a patient’s decision to have an abortion, even if that information might also encourage the patient to choose childbirth over abortion.”
But when U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier ruled the state can require doctors to deliver to patients accurate information about abortion, she said they did not have to tell women about the increased risk of suicide linked to abortion or that there is a “relationship” between the mother and unborn child.
In a return to the appellate court, attorneys with the ADF now are arguing the court should reject Planned Parenthood’s claims that it represents patients.
“A child’s life is worth more than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden. “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.’”
The brief argues Planned Parenthood does not have the right to bring its case, 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 they are terminating a legally protected relationship with an “unborn human being.”
The dispute stems from House Bill 1166 which was approved by the South Dakota legislature in 2005. It changed state law to require that women be given critical biological, relationship and medical information before undergoing an abortion.
Planned Parenthood sued and later pursued appeals over the years. The decision affirming much of the law came just last year.
The newest filing said the courts need to reject Planned Parenthood’s claims.
“Abortion providers cannot represent the constitutional claims of women when the relief requested is to withhold information from women considering the procedure that may result in physical and psychological harm,” the brief said. “The interests of [Planned Parenthood] do not align with the interests of women considering abortion, and thus they lack standing to represent the interests of women in this case.
“Planned Parenthood entirely lacks … standing because it is not a ‘physician’ subject to the challenged statute,” the brief continued. “Planned Parenthood cannot demonstrate the requisite personal stake in this controversy … Planned Parenthood is a Minnesota corporation doing business as a foreign corporation in South Dakota. … it is not a ‘physician’ within the meaning of South Dakota [law].
“Abortion providers have no real relationship, let alone a ‘close relationship,’ with women considering abortion. Planned Parenthood’s manner of providing abortions through contract workers bears no resemblance to the venerated traditional physician-patient relationship,” the brief argues.
Further, it states, “The information that the statute requires women to receive may cause some of them to forego their planned abortions. If that occurs, the abortion providers would receive less income … These pecuniary conflicts of interest strongly suggest that women should represent their own interests in court, and not have them represented by those who have a financial interest in providing them abortions.”
The friend-of-the-court brief was filed on behalf of the Family Research Council, Care Net, Heartbeat International and other groups that offer support for women with unplanned pregnancies.