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South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard

When Planned Parenthood fought a pitched courtroom battle with a team of hardy pro-lifers from South Dakota, it came away from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with a win in only one part of a major informed consent case.

Now that minor victory for the largest player in the nation’s abortion industry is in peril.

The Alliance Defense Fund says the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has agreed to review that single provision of South Dakota’s law that the court has not already affirmed.

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The provision requires that women be told of abortion’s documented risk of suicide, ADF said.

“A woman’s right to make a fully informed choice is more important than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line,” said Steven H. Aden, a senior ADF counsel. “If Planned Parenthood truly cared about the well-being of women, it would not try to prevent them from being informed of the well-documented risk of suicide that accompanies abortion.”

WND reported in September when a three-judge panel of the same court affirmed almost all of the state’s law. That included a requirement that doctors inform pregnant women that they have “an existing relationship” with an “unborn human being.” Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief last year on behalf of several pro-family and pro-life groups. Harold Cassidy, one of nearly 2,100 ADF attorneys, filed the initial appeal to the 8th Circuit on behalf of a group of pregnancy centers that successfully intervened in the suit to protect the interest of women, ADF reported.

The law’s roots are in the 2005 session of the South Dakota Legislature, where House Bill 1166 was approved. The bill revised state law to require that women be given critical biological, relationship and medical information before undergoing an abortion.

Planned Parenthood runs the only abortion business in the state, in Sioux Falls, by flying in abortionists periodically.

The abortion provider sued over the requirements. In August 2009, a district court judge ruled 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. The 8th Circuit reversed her decision concerning all provisions except for the “risk of suicide” provision, according to ADF.

But at that time, Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender wrote in the minority opinion in the case that the “risk of suicide” should have been affirmed, because “even the evidence relied upon by Planned Parenthood acknowledges a significant, known statistical correlation between abortion and suicide. This well-documented statistical correlation is sufficient to support the required disclosure that abortion presents an ‘increased risk’ of suicide, as that term is used in the relevant medical literature,” according to ADF.

The court earlier found constitutional the state’s decision to demand abortionists tell patients three things:

  • That the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being;

  • That [the patient] has an existing relationship with that unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protection under the United States Constitution and under the laws of South Dakota;
  • That by having an abortion, her existing relationship and her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated.

The law was the first of several huge battles the state of South Dakota and its pro-life community have launched in their war against the Roe v. Wade decision that authorized legal abortions throughout the nation starting in 1973.

Another stunning development was a decision in the legislature last year to require a 72-hour waiting period between the time an abortionist would see a patient and the procedure could happen. It was signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

The law also requires abortionists to refer patients to a counseling center, and affirm that they have had that counseling, before an abortion can be done.

The court arguments over that development are just beginning.

Daugaard said he consulted with state Attorney General Marty Jackley over the plan and was informed that supporters, including prime sponsor state Rep. Roger Hunt, had arranged for private funds to be committed to finance the state’s defense if needed, so that the bill would not impact Daugaard’s efforts to balance the budget.

Hunt earlier told WND the new law, HB 1217, is a logical extension of the House Bill 1166.


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