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Planned Parenthood Files Suit Against South Dakota Law to Protect Women's Health and Safety
Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS), represented by attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and joined by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed suit today in Federal District Court in Sioux Falls, SD, against a new law that severely restricts abortion access.
PPMNS v. Daugaard challenges HB 1217, which passed the South Dakota legislature in March and is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2011. The law would require a woman who is seeking an abortion to first prove that she has received so-called “counseling” from an unlicensed, unaccredited and unregulated crisis pregnancy centers. Further, it imposes a 72-hour mandatory delay for an abortion after a woman’s initial consultation with her doctor and requires her doctor to obtain written proof from her that she sought counseling at a crisis pregnancy center. The mandatory delay would be the longest in the nation.
“The voters of South Dakota, by resounding measures at the ballot box, twice have told their legislators that the decision to have an abortion is between a woman, her family and her doctor, and that government should not intrude on that decision,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “This law goes farther than any other in the country in intruding on the doctor-patient relationship, and putting women and families at risk.”
PPFA attorney Mimi Liu said the law is a violation of fundamental rights: “The Act has both the purpose and the effect of severely restricting access to health care, and violates patients’ and physicians’ First Amendment rights against compelled speech and patients’ right to privacy in their personal and medical information,” she said.
And Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said the law plays politics with women’s health. “It is demeaning for the government to force a woman to visit a non-medical facility with a political agenda when she is making one of the most personal medical decisions of her life,” she said. “We hope the court will stop the law from going into effect.”
In addition to the 72-hour mandatory delay and counseling requirements, the act requires a physician to identify every article that mentions any ostensible risk factor associated with abortion published in the past 40 years, and to discuss with women seeking an abortion all manner of so-called risk factors and complications related to abortion discussed in these articles, no matter how questionable, out of date, or refuted by the medical community they may be.
South Dakota’s abortion regulations are the most burdensome in the country. The state already has a 24-hour mandatory delay in place. In addition, a woman must be offered the opportunity to view a sonogram, and her responses must be recorded as part of her permanent medical records. And she must receive a government-dictated message from her doctor that is designed to intimidate and dissuade her.
“We will muster everything in our power to counter this law and to protect the health and well-being of South Dakota’s women and families,” said Stoesz. “The voters have made their wishes clear. It’s a travesty that their lawmakers have ignored them.”
About PPMNS v Daugaard
Today, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS), represented by attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and joined by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Sioux Falls , South Dakota, challenging the constitutionality of HB 1217.
The lawsuit names South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, and Doneen Hollingsworth and Margaret Hansen of the South Dakota Department of Health and Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners as defendants.
Under the pretext of ensuring the patient’s decision to have an abortion is “voluntary, uncoerced, and informed,” the law has both the purpose and the effect of severely restricting access to abortion services, and violates patients’ and physicians’ First Amendment rights against compelled speech and patients’ right to informational privacy by
-imposing the longest and most extreme mandatory delay in the country
-forcing every patient seeking an abortion first to disclose and discuss her most private personal and medical information with an unlicensed, non-medical, anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy center”
-requiring a physician to identify any article that mentions any supposed risk factor associated with abortion published in the past 40 years, and to discuss with women seeking an abortion all manner of so-called risk factors and complications related to abortion discussed in these articles, no matter how questionable, out of date, or refuted by the medical community they may be
The South Dakota Legislature passed HB1217, an act that requires a woman seeking an abortion to first prove that she has received “counseling” from one of the state’s unlicensed, unaccredited and unregulated “crisis pregnancy centers.” The law
-imposes a 72-hour mandatory delay for an abortion after a woman’s initial consultation with her doctor
-establishes a state registry of “pregnancy help centers” whose “principal mission is to educate, counsel and otherwise assist women to help them maintain their relationship with their unborn children”
-requires physicians to provide a woman with a complete list of the centers’ names, addresses and telephone numbers
-requires a physician to obtain written proof from a patient that she sought counseling at a “crisis pregnancy center”
-establishes a $10,000 civil penalty for physicians who fail to comply
Under the law, the “crisis pregnancy centers” must have a director licensed to practice medicine in the state or a “collaborative agreement” with a licensed physician. However, there are no requirements surrounding the qualifications of the centers’ “counselors” and no rules or regulations governing patient privacy.
Under the law, these crisis pregnancy centers must have as their central mission a desire to dissuade a woman from having an abortion, no matter what her particular risks or circumstances. Numerous studies have shown that crisis pregnancy centers give women false, ideologically driven information. In a report commissioned by Congress, titled The Waxman Report, investigators found that 87 percent of crisis pregnancy centers contacted by investigators gave false or misleading information about abortion.
Specifically, The Waxman Report found that:
-The centers provided false and misleading information about a link between abortion and breast cancer.
-The centers provided false and misleading information about the effect of abortion on future fertility.
-The centers provided false and misleading information about the mental health effects of abortion.
Out of Step with the Majority of South Dakotans
The editorial boards of the state’s leading daily newspapers have opposed the legislation. The Rapid City Journal called it a “political end run around a medical decision that women should make in consultation with a doctor, not politicians.” And the Sioux Falls Argus Leader called it “punitive in nature and out of step with the wishes of this state's residents.”
Leaders in the medical profession spoke out against HB 1217.
Dr. Marv Buehner, a prominent OB/GYN in Rapid City, South Dakota, was denied a chance to speak out against HB 1217 and how it would harm his patients.
Dr. Buehner wrote an opinion piece for the Rapid City Journal, describing the devastating effect the law would have on women in South Dakota.
In addition, the South Dakota State Medical Association (SDSMA) has stated in communications to its physician members: “The SDSMA … believes that physicians should be offered the ability to treat and care for patients according to their medical training and evidence based medicine. Allowing the specifics of the practice of medicine to be subject to the whims of the legislative body creates a slippery slope that should be avoided.”
Legislators voiced grave concerns about the unconstitutional law.
Republican Senator Joni Cutler from Sioux Falls states in a March press release:
“As a distinguished attorney himself, I am certain the glaring unconstitutional provisions found in HB 1217 cannot escape the Governor’s review. We expect the Governor of the state to uphold the constitution as he swore to do in his oath of office,” Senator Cutler stated.
“We know from a recent court cases in Nebraska that legislation with language extremely similar to that contained in HB1217 was ruled to be unconstitutional because it created ‘extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible’ standards in the way of those seeking abortions,” Cutler added.
And Republican Senator Deb Peters from Hartford released a statement decrying the use of taxpayer dollars to defend an unconstitutional bill.
The bill’s sponsor indicated that $3 million was available in the defense fund when, in reality, it is only $14,000. It is unfortunate, that scarce taxpayer dollars will be used to defend a bill written by out-of-state lawyers. Instead of giving more money to attorneys we should instead be directing resources to educate our children, assist our veterans and care for our citizens,” Senator Peters said.
A Profile of Abortion in South Dakota
South Dakota’s regulations on abortion are the most burdensome in the country. Planned Parenthood has the only health center in the state that provides abortion care. Before an abortion is performed, the following requirements must be met:
-The woman must receive state-mandated “education.” [SD Codified Law, 34-23A-10.1., 8/11/08]
-The woman must wait at least 24 hours after the state-mandated “education” before the procedure may be provided. [SD Codified Law, 34-23A-10.1., 8/11/08]
-If the patient is a minor, a parent or guardian of the patient must be notified. [SD Codified Law, 20-9-4.2., 8/11/08]
-The doctor must offer the woman an opportunity to view a sonogram, and must then record any responses in her permanent medical records. [SD Codified Law, 34-23A-52 8/11/08]
-The doctor must deliver a government-dictated message to the woman designed to intimidate her and discourage her decision. The mandatory language includes statements of fact which are contrary to all available medical research. [SD Codified Law, 34-23A-10.1., 8/11/08]