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Federal District Court Rules in Favor of Women's Health: Judge Holds South Dakota Law Unconstitutional

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) applaud today’s decision by the U.S. District Court in South Dakota striking down major portions of a South Dakota law that required doctors to give ideologically charged and misleading information to women seeking abortion care.

Specifically, the opinion by Judge Karen Schreier struck down the provisions of the South Dakota law that required telling the patient that an “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide” is a “known medical risk” of abortion, and that having an abortion terminates “an existing relationship” between the woman and fetus. 

Judge Schreier found that requiring these statements is unconstitutional because they are “untruthful and misleading.”

“We are pleased that the court recognized these provisions of the statute for what they are, pure ideology, not medical information, and that women in South Dakota should be able to make private health care decisions with their doctor — free from interference of government and politicians,” said Sarah Stoesz, CEO of PPMNS.

“Planned Parenthood believes a woman should always be able to get accurate, unbiased information about her health care so that she can make the best decision for her unique circumstances,” added PPFA President Cecile Richards. "It is a victory for women that the U.S. District Court agreed that the doctor-patient relationship should be free of government interference.”

In August 2008, PPMNS, along with PPFA, filed a motion for summary judgment with the District Court, asking the District Court to issue a final ruling that the state requirement mandating these specific disclosures was unconstitutional.
 
Planned Parenthood challenged the law in federal district court to protect women in South Dakota who rely on Planned Parenthood for abortion care. The lawsuit challenges several points, including that it violates doctors’ and patients’ constitutional rights by interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.

However, Planned Parenthood is disappointed that the court felt bound by an earlier Court of Appeals ruling to uphold another provision of the law compelling doctors to tell a woman, in the exact words written by the legislature that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

Every year, in communities nationwide, Planned Parenthood affiliates provide millions of women, men and teens with the information, education and care they need to protect their health, prevent unintended pregnancy, and plan and space healthy, wanted pregnancies. In South Dakota, PPMNS provides family planning services, birth control, cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection testing, and abortion services to thousands of women every year. Planned Parenthood is the only abortion provider in South Dakota. For more information, please visit http://www.plannedparenthood.org/.

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 850 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year. We also work with allies worldwide to ensure that all women and men have the right and the means to meet their sexual and reproductive health care needs.



Contacts

Tait Sye, 202-973-4882 (PPFA)
Kathi Di Nicola, 612-821-6157 (PPMNS)

Published: 08.20.09

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