Group Sues to Stop South Dakota Abortion Law

Planned Parenthood asked a federal judge Monday to strike down a new South Dakota abortion law, saying it would force doctors to read inaccurate, state-scripted medical information to women seeking abortions.

The group filed a lawsuit challenging the new statute in federal court in Sioux Falls, said Kate Looby, director of the Planned Parenthood clinic there.

"Politicians can't force doctors to tell patients things that aren't true. That's bad medicine," Looby said. "Just because politicians believe something is true doesn't make it so."

Supporters of the new law, though, say it ensures that women seeking abortions will fully understand what they are doing. They say women need to hear the extra information because scientific knowledge has advanced since the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in every state.

"It's just imperative that information be brought forward," said Democratic Sen. Julie Bartling, one of the measure's main sponsors.

Mark Johnston, spokesman for Republican Gov. Mike Rounds (search), said the governor's office does not comment on pending litigation. The state attorney general's office said it cannot comment until it receives the lawsuit and can study it.

The new law, scheduled to take effect July 1, would require doctors to inform women seeking abortions that the procedure ends the life of a human and terminates the constitutional relationship a woman has with her unborn child. It also requires doctors to tell women about the medical risks of abortion, including a statement that abortion could cause an increased risk of suicide.

State law already requires women to give informed consent before getting abortions. The new law would require doctors to give women the extra information before they sign consent forms.

The Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenges the statute as an unconstitutional burden on a woman's right to choose an abortion. It also argues the law is unconstitutionally vague because doctors would not know exactly what to tell women about some subjects.