Published May 29, 2011
A law scheduled to go into effect July 1 to require women to wait 72 hours and consult a crisis pregnancy center adviser before getting an abortion violates First Amendment rights, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by Planned Parenthood in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Calling South Dakota's abortion laws the most burdensome in the nation, Planned Parenthood said that HB 1217 aims to misinform pregnant women with the intent of dissuading them from getting an abortion.
"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," Planned Parenthood said in a written statement.
HB 1217 was passed in March and aims to toughen the state's current 24-hour mandatory waiting period. The law requires physicians to provide women with a list of "pregnancy help centers" where they must go to get "written proof" that they sought counseling before getting an abortion.
A woman must also be given the opportunity to view a sonogram and receive literature describing the risks associated with abortion.
Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation, accused the state and pregnancy help centers of deliberately providing information "no matter how questionable, out of date, or refuted by the medical community they may be."
"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," Planned Parenthood argued.
In anticipation of the lawsuit, South Dakota Attorney General Marty J. Jackley said Friday that he will issue an "appropriate response setting forth pertinent defenses" once his office is served.
However, pro-life groups have been anticipating the suit for months, and will activate its Life Protection Fund, established in 2006 in defense of other abortion laws, to accept donations to cover legal expenses.
Though the fund has just more than $32,300 according to the Argus Leader newspaper, quoting a spokesman to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, groups like the Family Heritage Alliance pledged in March to "fulfill our commitment to fund the bill." FHA is supported by groups like the Alpha Center, which is among the pregnancy crisis centers to receive patients considering abortions.