Redoubles Fight against Crisis Pregnancy Center Requirement; Dismissal without Prejudice on Waiting Period Filed
Sioux Falls, SD – Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota remains committed to fight South Dakota’s egregious 2011 law that allows politicians to force a woman who has decided to have an abortion to discuss her personal decision and her medical needs with an unregulated, unlicensed, crisis pregnancy center ideologically opposed to safe and legal abortion. At the same time, Planned Parenthood has dropped its challenge to a provision of the same law that requires a woman to wait at least three days between a consultation with her physician and a safe and legal abortion procedure.
Statement from Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS):
“Our patients have always counted on us to fight for them—and fight we will. No woman should be forced by politicians to discuss her most personal circumstances and medical decisions with an unlicensed, unregulated group opposed to safe and legal abortion.
“Currently, we are focusing our energy and resources on fighting the most egregious part of this law – the Crisis Pregnancy Center requirement. We still believe the 72-hour waiting period provision of this law is unconstitutional and an example of politicians interfering in the medical care of women. However, we have found a way to implement this provision while minimizing the negative effects for our patients.”
“We will continue to explore every option available to us to minimize patient harm, including returning to court at a later date with more specific proof. We think this is the most strategic thing we can do for our patients, before we proceed with what would undoubtedly be a long fought litigation battle ending in the Eighth Circuit. Nothing is more important to us than ensuring that every woman in South Dakota can continue to count on us for high quality, compassionate health care.”
“Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex issue. Decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family and her faith, with the counsel of her health care provider. A woman should not be forced to go to an unregulated, unlicensed Crisis Pregnancy Center and discuss the most personal aspects of her life. These are non-medical groups whose mission is to shame a woman out of a decision she has made in consultation with her family, her faith and her doctor.”
“For close to 20 years, women and families in South Dakota have relied on Planned Parenthood for accurate information and non judgmental counseling, in addition to a wide range of affordable, high quality health care. That remains true today – no matter what.”
At issue is a 2011 law that requires a woman to both disclose personal medical information to unlicensed, unaccredited so called “crisis pregnancy center” and wait 72 hours between an initial consultation with her doctor and a safe and legal medical procedure.
Planned Parenthood continues to believe the 72 hour waiting period requirement is unconstitutional and undermines women’s healthcare, but at this point, due to the extraordinary sacrifice by staff, is able to implement this provision of the law and continue to serve our patients. Planned Parenthood will be implement and gather evidence of the law’s effects on patient access to healthcare. Planned Parenthood preserves the right to return to court to fight this provision with more specific proof.
At the same time, Planned Parenthood is redoubling our efforts to fight the most egregious provision of the law – the Crisis Pregnancy Center requirement. In finding South Dakota’s “pregnancy help center requirement” is likely unconstitutional and temporarily blocking its enforcement in June 2011, a federal district court said, “The woman will feel degraded by the compulsive nature of the Pregnancy Help Center requirements, which suggest that she has made the ‘wrong’ decision, has not really ‘thought’ about her decision to undergo an abortion, or is ‘not intelligent enough’ to make the decision with the advice of a physician. Furthermore, these women are forced into a hostile environment.”
A 2006 Congressional investigation into the practices of crisis pregnancy centers found 87 percent gave false or misleading information about abortion, breast cancer, fertility and mental health.
When politicians insert themselves into the relationships between a doctor and patient as this SD law does, it forces women to travel outside of the state for care and often results abortions occurring later in pregnancy.
South Dakotans have twice decisively voted to protect access to safe and legal abortion if and when a woman needs to consider it. Still, politicians in Pierre have spent a significant amount of time making access to abortion care more difficult.
As a result, the State of South Dakota has spent the better part of the last fifteen years tied up in litigation around unconstitutional laws that undermine women’s health care, and it has cost South Dakota taxpayers over a half a million dollars in fees, not to mention thousands of attorney hours and state resources.
On July 24, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld a provision of a separate 2005 South Dakota state law requiring that a woman be told that by having an abortion she is subjecting herself to an increased risk of suicide and suicide ideation. Four judges dissented from the decision, with Judge Diana Murphy writing for the minority, “The most reliable evidence in the record shows that abortion does not have a causal relationship to the risk of suicide and that South Dakota's mandated advisory is not truthful, but actually misleading.”
This type of interference by politicians in the patient-doctor relationship is more and more common as state legislatures around the country pass similar laws – a practice which, in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the nation’s major leading medical organizations denounced as “inappropriate legislative interference” and noted that lawmakers “increasingly intrude into the realm of medical practice, often to satisfy political agendas without regard to established, evidence-based guidelines for care.”
For more than 80 years, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota has worked in our region to make sure all people have the information and the means to make free and responsible decisions about whether and when to have children. Planned Parenthood operates 20 clinics in Minnesota and South Dakota and an Online Health Center, providing quality and affordable family planning, reproductive health care services and education to nearly 64,000 women and men each year.
Jen Aulwes, 651-755-9557
December 21, 2012