Judge: SD doctors must say abortion ends life
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge upheld part of a South Dakota law that requires women to be told abortion ends a human life, but struck down disclosures that the procedure increases the likelihood of suicide and that they have an existing relationship with the fetus.
U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier's decision Thursday ends a lawsuit that Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota filed in response to a 2005 informed consent law that required several disclosures to women seeking an abortion.
She sided with the state in ruling that doctors must make the biological disclosure "that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."
But Schreier said doctors can provide more information than the language in the statute, including that the term can be used in a biological sense and not ideological.
Schreier ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood by concluding that pregnant women do not need to be told abortion increases the likelihood of suicide or that they have an existing relationship with the fetus.
Both sides claimed victory.
"We're relieved our doctors have the ability to use their best medical judgment to explain and make sure what women understand is biological and factual information and not an ideological mandate from the state," said Mimi Liu, an attorney for Planned Parenthood.
The organization operates South Dakota's only abortion clinic, which is in Sioux Falls.
Leslee Unruh, founder of the Alpha Center pregnancy counseling center in Sioux Falls, one of the intervening parties in the lawsuit, said she will appeal the suicide and relationship disclosure decisions.
The human being ruling was significant, she said.
"This is the unraveling of Roe (v. Wade). This is a huge, fatal blow to them," Unruh said of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
"We take the human being part and go to the Supreme Court and put the human relationship in. That knocks out Roe v. Wade."
Planned Parenthood sued the state after the 2005 law passed and Schreier temporarily prevented it from taking effect. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled that order last year.
Sarah Stoesz, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Assistant Attorney General John Guhin, who argued the case for the state, said Schreier largely followed the appeal court's decision.
Both said they will weigh whether to appeal the issues they lost.
Planned Parenthood had sought a restraining order to keep the state from revoking its license because of a disagreement over what wording should go in the disclosure form.
Schreier's ruling makes that moot, though the state Health Department will review the decision and "implement it in a relatively quick manner," Guhin said.
"We've taken the view, at least with regard to the human being disclosure, that since the 8th Circuit ruled they've been obligated to comply, which is over a year ago," he said.
Stoesz said Planned Parenthood will also review the decision.
"We will, of course, ensure that we are in full compliance with the judge's order," she said.
GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY STATE LESLEE UNRUTH.