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A team of citizens in South Dakota has volunteered to generate financial support for the attorney general to defend a proposed law that sets a precedent for requiring abortionists to refer mothers to counseling centers that advocate alternatives such as parenting and adoption.

The work is being spearheaded by Dr. Allen Unruh in Sioux Falls, who is trying to raise commitments for $250,000 that officials estimate could be needed for a court fight over HB 1217, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.


South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard

The effort is being assembled to help the governor in his efforts to make sure that the state’s budget is balanced and addresses the most important needs of the state’s residents.

A spokesman for Daugaard has affirmed to WND unless there is a major defect that has been completely unnoticed, the governor plans to sign the precedent-setting plan.

Leslee Unruh of the Alpha Center counseling program said the goal is that women have access to full information about the impact an abortion would have.

The proposal would require abortionists to refer potential patients to a pregnancy help center for “the other side of the story” and require that the mothers-to-be then affirm that they have had no one forcing them into the procedure.

The bill, which is common sense to the pro-life community but anathema to abortionists, follows the state’s earlier victory in a drawn-out court battle that went up to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that now requires abortionists clearly to tell pregnant women an abortion will “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” and that her relationship with that unborn child is protected under the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state.

State Rep. Roger Hunt, one of many sponsors of the bill, told WND that HB 1217 is just a logical extension of the concern that led to House Bill 1166 several years ago, the informed-consent concept that Planned Parenthood unsuccessfully challenged in court.

In that dispute, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the 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.”

The state law dictates the specific words that must be used by Planned Parenthood business operators. The state subsequently threatened sanctions against Planned Parenthood when it decided to interpret the law to its own benefit and substituted its own “warning” to patients.

Hunt told WND that the new proposal addresses two concerns that followed the creation of the state’s informed consent requirement: whether women are getting full and fair information about their pregnancy options and whether they were being “coerced” into abortions.

The new guidelines would require referrals to state-approved pregnancy help centers, would require that a doctor to meet personally with a women before the abortion can be scheduled and a wait of 72 hours before the life of the unborn child can be ended. It also requires an affirmation that no one is forcing the woman to have an abortion.

Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said, “This bill provides women in South Dakota with a variety of resources not previously available. With the assistance of an independent physician and pregnancy help center expectant mothers can be better informed of this life-altering decision. Those who really care about women will enthusiastically endorse this bill.”

Abortion providers already have threatened to sue, again.

Liberty Counsel explained that in South Dakota, all abortions are done by out-of-state abortionists who fly in in the morning and usually depart by evening.

“The doctor only spends about five to seven minutes total with each woman and meets them for the first time only after the woman has undressed for the abortion,” the organization explained. “Women who come to the clinic are required to sign a consent form for the abortion and even pay for the procedure as a precondition to seeing the so-called ‘patient educator’ for counseling.”

The law states it is “a necessary and proper exercise of the state’s authority to give precedence to the mother’s fundamental interest in her relationship with her child over the irrevocable method of termination of that relationship by induced abortion.”

The law specifies, “A pregnancy help center consulted by a pregnant mother considering consenting to an abortion, as a result of the provisions of this Act, shall be permitted to interview the pregnant mother to determine whether the pregnant mother has been subject to any coercion to have an abortion, and shall be permitted to inform the pregnant mother in writing or orally, or both, what counseling, education, and assistance that is available to the pregnant mother to help her maintain her relationship with her unborn child and help her care for the child both through the pregnancy help center or any other organization, faith-based program, or governmental program.”

It also explains, “‘Coercion’ exists if the pregnant mother has a desire to carry her unborn child and give birth, but is induced, influenced, or persuaded to submit to an abortion by another person or persons against her desire. Such inducement, influence, or persuasion may be by use of, or threat of, force, or may be by pressure or intimidation effected through psychological means, particularly by a person who has a relationship with the pregnant mother that gives that person influence over the pregnant mother.”


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