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Federal Appeals Court To Consider S.D. Law Requiring Suicide Warning Before Abortion Care

Federal Appeals Court To Consider S.D. Law Requiring Suicide Warning Before Abortion Care

December 7, 2011 — A full panel of a federal appeals court will hold a Jan. 9 hearing on a South Dakota law requiring physicians to tell women seeking abortion care that the procedure would raise their risk of suicide, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.

The 2005 law has been the subject of multiple court challenges from Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, with mixed results on its various provisions (Walker, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 12/6).

In September, a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the suicide provision but upheld parts requiring physicians to inform women that they have an "existing relationship" with the fetus that is protected by law and that they cannot be forced to have an abortion. The ruling overturned an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier that struck down a requirement that a physician tell a woman she "has an existing relationship with the unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protection under the United States Constitution and under the laws of South Dakota." Schreier also struck down the suicide provision (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/6).

The state and antiabortion-rights groups appealed, requesting that the full court consider the suicide provision (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/4). This week, groups on both sides expressed confidence that they would prevail (Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 12/6).