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S.D. Seeks Full Appellate Court Review of Suicide Clause in Abortion Law

S.D. Seeks Full Appellate Court Review of Suicide Clause in Abortion Law

October 4, 2011 — South Dakota officials and antiabortion-rights organizations on Friday petitioned a federal appeals court to conduct an en banc review of its decision to strike down part of a 2005 state law that would require physicians to tell women that abortion increases the risk of suicide, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports. An en banc review would involve all 11 judges on the appeals court (Luther, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 10/1).

Last month, a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld parts of the law requiring physicians to inform women seeking abortion care that they have an "existing relationship" with the fetus protected by law and that they cannot be forced to have the procedure. However, the panel struck down the suicide clause, ruling that the requirement violates a physician's first amendment rights. It would require physicians to make "untruthful and misleading" statements, the judges stated (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/6).

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) said the state is seeking the review to show support for state legislators' approval of the law, to obtain an additional court opinion for clarity and to ensure proper enforcement of the law's suicide clause.

Jen Aulwes, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, said, "We are disappointed that the state of South Dakota is continuing to waste taxpayer dollars pursuing this case, especially at a time when South Dakota families are struggling, like the rest of the country, to make ends meet." She noted that the appeals court and major medical organizations agree that abortion does not increase the risk of mental health problems (Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 10/1).