Court strikes down portions of S. Dakota informed consent law

Court strikes down portions of S. Dakota informed consent law


A federal court has upheld portions of South Dakota’s informed consent law which require doctors to tell women considering an abortion that they are terminating a human life. However, the court ruled doctors did not have to inform women they are terminating a legally protected relationship with an unborn human being.

According to the legal definition of the term, the preborn are not “persons,” the judge ruled.

The case concerned the 2005 South Dakota law House Bill 1166, which instated additional informed consent requirements for an abortion procedure.

Planned Parenthood, the operator of the state’s only abortion clinic, challenged the law and secured a court injunction against it.

In June 2008 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled 7-4 to lift the injunction and returned the case to district court.

In an August 20 decision, Judge Karen Schreier of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, Southern Division, upheld the law’s provision that the doctor must inform a woman that the abortion will “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

However, according to the Alliance Defense Fund, she overturned the law’s provision requiring the woman to be informed of her existing relationship with the unborn child and that an “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide” is a “known medical risk” of abortion.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota celebrated the ruling as a victory, saying that Judge Schreier had "recognized these provisions of the statue for what it is, pure ideology, not medical information... ."

“[I]n the legal context, a pregnant mother cannot have a ‘relationship’ with a ‘human being,’ as that word is defined in the statute,” Judge Schreier ruled.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) authored and filed a friend-of-the-court brief defending the law on behalf of the Family Research Council.

ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden commented on the court ruling, saying “A woman’s life is worth more than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line, so we’re pleased the abortion industry failed in its attempt to strike down this law.”

“We agree with the decision of the court to allow South Dakota women to be informed of the indisputable fact that her baby is a human being. 

“We find it incredible, however, for the court to determine that the law cannot acknowledge that a ‘pregnant woman has an existing relationship with that unborn human being’ because some human beings are somehow not ‘persons.’

“The court ruled that a woman has more of a relationship with the abortionist than her preborn baby.  All human beings are persons,” Aden said in a press release.

Defenders of the overruled provisions plan to appeal to the Eight Circuit Court.

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