A series of new abortion restrictions written by lawmakers to ensure that a woman knows the risks of the procedure will take effect in South Dakota next week.
The startling development was confirmed by South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, who said today that a federal court order will allow key requirements of the state’s most recent abortion legislation to take effect July 1.
The law expands a requirement that the risks of abortion be disclosed to a woman. It also strengthens requirements that women be advised of their options and acknowledge them.
Jackley’s announcement said, “Pursuant to the 2011 and 2012 legislation and the order, beginning July 1, 2012, doctors who perform abortions must assess each woman for pre-existing risk factors such as coercion and must advise the woman about the risk of adverse psychological outcomes.”
He explained that the order lifted an injunction issued last year over provisions of the 2011 law when abortion advocates launched a court challenge.
Along with requiring the doctor to assess whether the woman has been coerced to have an abortion, the law imposes a three-day waiting period between the time the doctor meets with the woman and the actual procedure. It also requires the woman to consult with a pregnancy help center.
Planned Parenthood, the largest player in the nation’s abortion industry, sued South Dakota. One year ago, the court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing most of the provisions, pending the outcome of litigation on the merits of the case.
During the 2012 legislative session, South Dakotans amended several portions of the 2011 abortion law, and Planned Parenthood followed up with an amended complaint. Planned Parenthood dropped its challenge to the provisions regarding coercion and a risk-factor assessment but continued challenging requirements regarding the referrals to the pregnancy help centers and the three-day delay.
As a result, the two sides agreed to an order that the coercion and risk-factor assessment provisions will go into effect July 1.
“The remaining challenged provisions – the requirement for involvement of the pregnancy help centers and the three-day delay – will continue to be enjoined pending the outcome of discovery, briefing and argument before the district court,” the state’s announcement said.
According to a statement by the Alpha Center of Sioux Falls and the Black Hills Pregnancy Center of Rapid City, two abortion alternative centers to which women may be referred, the decision from Judge Karen Schreier opens the door to substantial new requirements for abortions.
“Planned Parenthood can no longer have a clerk schedule abortion surgery – which has been its practice – without a physician first seeing a pregnant mother, compelling a change in the practices at the Planned Parenthood abortion facility,” the statement said.
“Only a physician can schedule an abortion, and only after the physician first performs an assessment, which includes an assessment to determine if the pregnant mother is being pressured or coerced into having an abortion. Until now, no such assessments were performed, and no physician saw the pregnant mother until after the surgery was scheduled and only after she was required to sign a consent for the abortion and only after she was required to pay for the abortion,” the statement continued.
“The physician must now assess the pregnant mother by screening for certain risk factors that would place her at risk for serious psychological injury if the abortion was performed. Until now, such screening has not been done.”
The abortion alternative centers were granted permission to argue on behalf of the new state law.
The same counseling centers also were involved in a separate lawsuit that has been going on for several years. 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 the bill.
The law concerning the counseling requirements, HB 1217, 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.
In the other case over the 2005 law, the Alliance Defense Fund 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,” Steven H. Aden, a senior ADF counsel, said 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 last September when a three-judge panel of the same court affirmed almost all of the state’s 2005 law. The law 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.
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 pre-born 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.
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.”
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 fought against the Roe v. Wade decision that authorized legal abortions throughout the nation in 1973.