Federal appeals court halts enforcement of South Dakota abortion law

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official website] on Monday upheld [opinion text, PDF] a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] preventing South Dakota from enforcing a 2005 abortion law [text] pending a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota [advocacy website]. The statute, which the governor signed along with three other bills restricting abortion [JURIST report], requires doctors who perform abortions to tell women that abortion ends the lives of "human beings." Violations carry 30 days of jail time and a $200 fine. South Dakota asserts that the legislation requires doctors to provide only medically accurate information and will not prevent access to abortion. Planned Parenthood argues that the law violates the free-speech rights of doctors. Writing for a split three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Diana Murphy [official profile] wrote:

Because the challenged disclosures could be found to violate both the First Amendment rights of physicians and the due process rights of women seeking abortion, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding at this preliminary stage that Planned Parenthood demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits.
Earlier this year, the South Dakota legislature passed [JURIST report] a law banning most abortions [PDF text] in the state. Gov. Mike Rounds signed the legislation [JURIST report], but opponents gathered enough signatures to force a referendum [JURIST report] on the law in the upcoming November election. AP has more.


 

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