A judge has decided that two South Dakota counseling centers that offer guidance to women expecting babies will be allowed to argue in defense of a state law that would require counseling before any abortion is performed to ascertain the decision was not coerced.
The ruling was released today by the Alliance Defense Fund, which is working to defend against the lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion industry player, over the state’s new mandatory counseling.
The new law, signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, prohibits the scheduling of an abortion unless the mother first obtains a screening for coercion by a physician and then obtains certain counseling and an assessment for coercion at a pregnancy help center, the ADF said.
No abortion can be performed less than 72 hours after the physician’s initial assessment so the mother can have the information and time to make an informed, voluntary decision.
Harold Cassidy, an ADF-allided attorney, said, “If Planned Parenthood truly cared about the well-being of women, it would not try to rush them into the abortion chamber before determining that her decision is not being coerced.
“This law ensures that women have a chance to get accurate information and counseling from those who seek to protect the mother’s true rights. The requirement of a 72-hour waiting period is essential to ensure her decision is voluntary and informed,” he said.
Cassidy said the law protects the mother’s fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution to her relationship with her child.
The ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, Southern Division, said that two centers, Alpha Center in Sioux Falls and Black Hills Crisis Pregnancy Center in Rapid City, “have a significant or legally protectable interest in the legitimacy of the act because their primary mission of counseling pregnant women, particularly those who are contemplating abortion, would be impeded by striking down the act.”
Cassidy also represents the same centers in a separate lawsuit that has been going on for several years. In that case, now before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals again, is over the state’s 2005 informed consent law. The appellate court has upheld everything except one small section of that bill.
The law concerning the counseling requirements was HB 1217, and was adopted by the South Dakota Legislature in 2011. It is the next step following the 2005 informed consent law.
The newest law establishes “additional procedures that abortion providers must follow prior to performing any abortion in South Dakota to ensure that the woman’s choice is voluntary, uncoerced, and informed,” the district court ruling said.
“Applicants are two of the three pregnancy help centers who have
registered with the state to obtain referrals under the act,” the court said.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard
In the other case over the 2005 law, the ADF recently reported the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has agreed to review the single provision of South Dakota’s law that the court has not already affirmed.
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, at the time of the announcement. “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 2005 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. 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.
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.