National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Planned Parenthood Seeks Preliminary Injunction To Block S.D. Abortion Counseling Law

Planned Parenthood Seeks Preliminary Injunction To Block S.D. Abortion Counseling Law

June 29, 2011 — Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota on Monday asked federal Chief Judge Karen Schreier for a preliminary injunction to prevent a recently enacted South Dakota law from taking effect while it is being challenged in court, the AP/Forbes reports. The law takes effect July 1 (Lammers, AP/Forbes, 6/28).

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota on May 27 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls against the new state law. The legislation made South Dakota the first state to implement a 72-hour waiting period before women can receive abortion care. About half of U.S. states require a 24-hour waiting period. The law includes an exception in emergency cases but not for cases of rape or incest. The law imposes the longest waiting period in the country before women can receive abortion services and requires women to seek counseling at crisis pregnancy centers, which oppose abortion. In practice, the waiting period could stretch to seven days because abortion care is provided only one day a week in South Dakota (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/28).

Mimi Liu, a Planned Parenthood attorney, argued that the law violates a woman's constitutional right to seek abortion services. The law "will force women out of state and prevent others all together from accessing an abortion," she said. She also said that requiring women to visit a CPC and discuss intimate details with an unlicensed counselor violates First Amendment protections against compelled speech.

South Dakota Deputy Attorney General John Guhin said, "What South Dakota is doing is perfectly acceptable," adding that Planned Parenthood has not presented evidence that the law would restrict access to abortion. Patricia DeVaney, an assistant attorney general, said the law is "a regulation of conduct, not speech," adding that it does not require a woman to disclose any personal information other than that she is pregnant and seeking abortion services.

Schreier challenged DeVaney's claims, asking why the law "use[s] the word 'must' and 'shall.'" She said that the law defines coercion as "if the pregnant mother has a desire to carry her unborn child and give birth, but is induced, influenced or persuaded to submit to an abortion by another person or persons against her desire." Schreier said she is concerned about the word "desire," which has a different connation than "will" or "free will" (AP/Forbes, 6/28).