South Dakota Federal Judge Gets Papers for Ruling on Abortion Information Law

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 9
, 2009

Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — A South Dakota federal judge has received what are likely to be the last legal papers from attorneys for the state to rule on an abortion information law. The measure requires abortion practitioners to tell women that an abortion will destroy a human life of an unborn child.

The state legislature approved modifications to the informed consent law in 2005 with that instruction and information on the plethora of medical and psychological problems associated with abortion.

But Planned Parenthood, which runs the only abortion business in the state in Sioux Falls, claimed making them tell women the truth about abortion’s problems would infringe on the free speech rights of abortion practitioners and filed suit against the law.

After Planned Parenthood sued to stop the law, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier granted the injunction it sought. She issued the ruling saying she believed Planned Parenthood would prevail in its case and agreed that first amendment rights would be improperly trumped.

The state appealed the ruling for the temporary injunction and a three judge panel of the appeals court agreed on a 2-1 ruling and continued the injunction.

But then the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the injunction last July and the state began enforcing the law.

Now, the case itself is back before Schreier, who will rule on whether the law is constitutional. Planned Parenthood is requesting a decision for summary judgment in the case.

Assistant Attorney General John Guhin defended the law during the hearing before the appeals court.

“The Legislature became convinced women are not getting information about the unborn life within them,” he said at the time.

“The really sad part is that it might be a husband, boyfriend, even parents” who pressured a woman to have an abortion and the state legislature wanted women to know they have a right to keep the baby, he added.

However, Planned Parenthood lawyer Tim Branson called the information “highly misleading and calculated to mislead.”

Judge Raymond Gruender appeared to side with the state and questioned Planned Parenthood, asking “What part of it is untruthful?”

Meanwhile, two pregnancy centers joined the state as defendants in the case.

Alpha Center in Sioux Falls and Black Hills Crisis Pregnancy Center in Rapid City said they have a stake in the case because the women impacted by the law are considering an abortion and often come to the centers for more advice and information.

“When the pregnant mothers realize that abortion involves the termination of the life of a human being, they look at the procedure in a different light,” Leslee Unruh, Alpha Center president, said previously. “It is not taken lightly and for most of the women this fact is of critical importance and leads them to search for other alternatives.”

They also counsel women who have had abortions and say they were not well informed by the abortion centers beforehand.

Similar informed consent laws in other states have reduced the number of abortions and helped women in unplanned pregnancies find local agencies that will help them.

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