Federal judge blocks South Dakota abortion law with 72-hour waiting period

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of South Dakota [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [order, PDF] Thursday blocking a South Dakota abortion regulation [HB 1217] requiring a 72-hour waiting period. Judge Karen Shreier ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota (ACLUSD) and Planned Parenthood Federation of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota [advocacy websites] were likely to succeed on their claims provisions in the law violate doctors' and patients' First Amendment rights and creates an undue burden on woman seeking abortions [JURIST news archive]. In addition to mandating a three-day waiting period for an abortion, the law requires that a woman seeking an abortion consult a "pregnancy help center" geared toward preventing abortions and be informed of "risk factors" of the abortion, and requires the doctor to certify that the woman has not been "coerced" into making her decision. The waiting period is the longest passed by any state. Mimi Liu, the attorney working with Planned Parenthood who argued the case, praised the decision [press release]:

This law takes restricting access to abortion to a whole new level. If implemented, it would have the practical effect of requiring many of our patients to drive the equivalent of halfway across the country to access an abortion. On top of that, it would force our patients to discuss their most private medical information with an unlicensed, non-medical group that is opposed to abortion. We are happy and relieved for our patients that the court’s decision today means they will not have to suffer through these outrageous and demeaning requirements.
The judge found that the requirements on the doctor provide certain information and for the woman to retrieve certain information violated their First Amendment rights and were not narrowly tailored to meet the state's interest. Further, the waiting period and the requirement the woman go to a "pregnancy help center" created an undue burden on the women violating their constitutional right to an abortion. HB 1217 amends South Dakota law on abortions [SDCL 34-23A].

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard [official website] signed [JURIST report] HB 1217 into law in March. Daugaard has said he was prepared for the state attorney to defend the law against the ACLU and Planned Parenthood challenge [JURIST report] alluding to a private donor willing to finance the endeavor. South Dakota is one of many states which has recently been introducing more restrictive abortion laws. The Iowa House of Representatives [official website] voted in June in favor of a bill [HF-1736 text, PDF] that would effectively ban abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy {JURIST report], making it the most restrictive abortion law in the country. Earlier that week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton [official website] vetoed a pair of bills [JURIST report] that restricted state funding for abortions and banned them altogether after 20 weeks. Also in May, Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] signed into law a bill that requires women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram [JURIST report]. Multiple states have acted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain, including Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas and Idaho [JURIST reports].

 

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