Pregnancy counselors in South Dakota are preparing for a surge in activity with the enactment of a new law that requires women seeking abortions to visit a state-approved counseling center.
The new law is just one of the efforts in the Midwestern state to alleviate the burden of abortion, and its supporters say it’s one-of-a-kind. It comes a focus on abortion brought by the Philadelphia murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, accused in the gruesome killing of infants born after botched abortions and a women who underwent the procedure.
South Dakota also has conducted its own study of the impact of abortion, resulting in a 3,500-page document of scientific evidence about the procedure. The state has enacted laws requiring abortionists to tell women they have a right to a relationship with their unborn child; that an abortion terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human; and that women who undergo abortion have a higher risk of suicide.
The state also requires a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion along with the requirement that every woman seeking an abortion go to a pregnancy care center.
“No state has this requirement, and nothing threatens the business of Planned Parenthood like this,” said a statement today from the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls, one of the counseling centers approved by the state.
The organization is gearing up to expand its size and staff to handle the counseling load that it expects under the new law. In a letter to constituents, it said it recognizes that it is on the “front lines in this battle for the unborn.”
Staff at Alpha Center, a nonprofit run by donations in Sioux Falls, said they likely will double their budget to provide additional space and counselors for the new work load that is expected.
“We are dealing with the civil rights issue of the century. Abortion is such a contentious issue like slavery was in the Dred Scott decision of 1857, and we must do whatever it takes to bring this issue to the Supreme Court,” the center said in a statement. “It took 100 years after the Civil War before the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine was reversed in the Supreme Court, but lost many times prior.”
The center said its workers have been fully trained and keep up to date on medically accurate information.
“We will be meeting the criteria of the state law requirements, since Planned Parenthood does not police themselves,” the statement to supporters said. “As you know, Lila Rose has uncovered that Planned Parenthood protects child molesters, sex traffickers and rapists. But the Pregnancy Care Centers will be held to a higher standard.”
Along with additional counseling staff members and office space, the organization is planning for a bus carrying an ultrasound with a technician, a counselor and a driver to visit regularly the campuses of the state’s colleges.
“The government has required women to go to a pregnancy care center; however, the government does not provide any of the funding for any centers. … We have assured [the governor] we will raise outside money to help with expenses,” the center statement said.
WND has reported the state’s battle over abortion. Most recently, a federal appeals court affirmed the last provision of a long-disputed informed consent law, ruling that South Dakota can require abortionists to inform women seeking to terminate the lives of their unborn baby that they face an increased risk of suicide.
At the time, attorney Harold J. Cassidy called the decision of the full 8th Circuit Court of Appeals “a fabulous victory for the women of the state of South Dakota.”
Cassidy represented Leslee Unruh, president of the Alpha Center of Sioux Falls, and Stacy Wollman, president of Care Net of Rapid City. They were allowed in intervene in the case filed by Planned Parenthood against the state’s new law.
“This victory represents the fourth separate decision of the 8th Circuit reversing the district court in this one case, two decisions issued by en banc (full) courts four years apart – a rare occurrence that underscores the importance of the issues presented by the case,” said Cassidy.
“As a result of this case upholding all eight major provisions of South Dakota’s Abortion Informed Consent Statute, pregnant mothers will now be informed: 1) that ‘an abortion terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being;’ 2) that the mother’s ‘relationship with that second human being enjoys protection under the Constitution of the United States and the laws of South Dakota;’ 3) ‘that relationship and all rights attached to it will be terminated;’ and 4) the abortion places the mother ‘at increased risk for suicide ideation and suicide,’” he said.
The court’s opinion said even Planned Parenthood’s own testimony documented a link between abortion and suicide.
“Planned Parenthood’s own expert, Dr. Nada Stotland, admitted that one of the studies, which determined a suicide rate after abortion of 31.9 per 100,000 as compared to a suicide rate after live birth of 5.0 per 100,000, ‘indicates an association; not causation, but an association’ between abortion and suicide,” the judges wrote.
Commenting on the decision, Steven H. Aden of the Alliance Defending Freedom said “a woman’s right to make a fully informed choice is more important than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.”
“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,” he said. “The 8th Circuit has done the right thing in upholding a reasonable law that protects the well-being of women by making sure that the truth is not hidden from them.”
The Sioux Falls Alpha Center’s Unruh said the ruling “gives hope to the hopeless.”
“These are women who had abortions who were coerced, persecuted, broken. These women did a very courageous thing in going to the South Dakota legislature and telling their stories,” she said. “These judges have believed them, listened to their hearts and have ruled on their behalf.”
The lawsuit was brought by Planned Parenthood against the state after the legislature in 2005 adopted the informed consent requirements for abortionists.
The new law requiring that a physician have a personal interview with a woman seeking an abortion was subject to a second challenge by Planned Parenthood. The woman also must visit a state-approved counseling centers before the abortionist can schedule the procedure.
In South Dakota, Planned Parenthood flies abortionists in to a facility where they perform abortions. The law requires doubling the visits, because an abortionist could not interview a woman and perform an abortion on her during the same trip.
The law also requires that an abortionist determine whether the woman is being coerced into the abortion.
WND reported when the law was signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
The governor said, “Everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives. I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.”
The plan, which sailed through the state legislature, is an act “to establish certain legislative findings pertaining to the decision of a pregnant mother considering termination of her relationship with her child by an abortion, to establish certain procedures to better insure that such decisions are voluntary, uncoerced, and informed, and to revise certain causes of action for professional negligence relating to performance of an abortion.”
Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said the law is a “huge precedent” that moves America “in the right direction to return us to a respect for the sanctity of life.”
He said he expects abortionists will not take the requirement lightly, but he believes it can be supported constitutionally. It even could reach as high as the U.S. Supreme Court and establish precedent.
Opponents of the law, he noted, will have to argue against providing full and complete information to women.
If that happens, he said, “abortionists are going to be revealed for what they really believe, that women essentially should be duped into having abortions.”