S.D. 72-Hour Waiting Period Law Temporarily Blocked

July 5, 2011 — U.S. District Chief Judge Karen Schreier on Thursday granted a preliminary injunction against a South Dakota law that would require women to obtain counseling at crisis pregnancy centers and wait 72 hours before receiving abortion care, the AP/Washington Post reports. Schreier's ruling prevents the law from taking effect until the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota is settled in court.

Schreier said that requiring women to obtain counseling at antiabortion-rights CPCs would create an undue burden. She said Planned Parenthood demonstrated that the law's provisions are "likely" unconstitutional and that there is a public interest in protecting a woman's right to abortion and to free speech.

"Forcing a woman to divulge to a stranger at a pregnancy help center the fact that she has chosen to undergo an abortion humiliates and degrades her as a human being," Schreier wrote, adding, "The woman will feel degraded by the compulsive nature of the pregnancy help center requirements, which suggest that she has made the 'wrong' decision, has not really 'thought' about her decision to undergo an abortion, or is 'not intelligent enough' to make the decision with the advice of a physician."

According to the AP/Post, Schreier upheld a small provision in the law that allowed CPCs to register with the state, but she suspended all sections of the law requiring women to visit CPCs.


South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) said the state now must decide whether to appeal the preliminary injunction, continue to argue its case, discuss a settlement or do nothing. "At this point, I need to fully read the decision and discuss it with the attorneys involved in the case, the governor and legislative leadership," he said.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) said he was not surprised by the decision. He said, "I believe everyone agrees, no matter what their stance on abortion, that it's a laudable goal to reduce abortions by encouraging consideration of other alternatives." He added that the law would give "women time to reflect and make good choices" by imposing a three-day waiting period.

Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said Schreier "recognized" that "the current Legislature and governor are clearly out of step with the people of South Dakota" (AP/Washington Post, 6/30).