The Department of Health has formally threatened to suspend the license of South Dakota’s only abortion facility for failing to make certain disclosures to clients.
In a letter dated Aug. 7, health officials say that during an inspection in May, Planned Parenthood failed to provide a pregnant woman with several pieces of information required by law. The letter gives Planned Parenthood until Aug. 22 to submit a plan of correction.
The same issues are tied up in a federal lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed against the state in 2005. The abortion provider maintains it doesn’t have to follow a script written by the state and that sections of the informed consent law are inaccurate or unconstitutional.
Both sides made oral arguments on motions for summary judgment July 17 in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls. Judge Karen Schreier has yet to rule; she could decide in favor of either party or send it to trial.
The letter of deficiency is the result of a July 30 meeting between Planned Parenthood and health officials. The parties worked toward an interim agreement that would stay enforcement of the law, but none was reached.
“We knew if we didn’t reach an interim agreement with them then this would occur,” Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola said of the deficiency notice. “It’s procedural, to an extent.”
Di Nicola wouldn’t speak to the details of that meeting.
Planned Parenthood on Tuesday asked Schreier for a temporary restraining order, which would preclude the state from carrying out sanctions against the facility until the judge has ruled on the motions for summary judgment.
The state has not yet responded to that request.
Passed in 2005, the informed consent law was challenged immediately by Planned Parenthood and wasn’t enforced until July 2008 when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a preliminary injunction. Planned Parenthood says it began complying with the law at that time, but the Department of Health says the information they are providing to patients did not match the language of the law.
Specifically, during the May inspection at the Sioux Falls clinic, the state says Planned Parenthood did not tell a pregnant woman:
– “The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being;”
– That she “has an existing relationship with that unborn human being,” which is protected by law, and the abortion will terminate that relationship and those rights;
– “All known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors ... including ... depression and related psychological distress (and) increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide;”
– The correct address of the Department of Health Web site;
– The required information at least 24 hours prior to the abortion.
While I understand that the clinic broke the law (however stupid I might think it is), South Dakota's record on abortion is made of complete and utter fail, so this set off alarm bells when I saw it. All we need is Leslie Unruth and Co. to start up yet another abortion ban for the 2010 election, and we'll be set.