Judge strikes down South Dakota abortion counseling law for second time

Louisiana court

For the second time in a decade, a federal judge has blocked a pro-life law from taking effect in South Dakota. The 2011 law required women seeking abortions to first undergo counseling with a pro-life pregnancy center.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier handed down her ruling on August 20, according to the Grand Forks Herald. She previously struck down the law a decade ago, and noted that there have been no significant changes in legal rulings over the last 10 years that would have changed her previous decision.

The 2011 law was passed in order to help women who were feeling pressured into an abortion. However, Schreier determined that the law was “paternalistic” because it assumed a woman doesn’t decide to “seek an abortion of her own volition,” and that a woman is “unable to make a decision on her own and is subject to societal pressures.”

However, research actually shows that many women are pressured into abortion.

READ: South Dakota pro-life laws take effect, including protection for babies with Down syndrome

A study published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons found that nearly 74% of women who sought post-abortion counseling said they faced pressure to abort their babies. In addition, a study from the Elliot Institute revealed that 64% of women who had abortions felt pressure to abort, 67% did not receive any counseling prior to the abortion, 79% said they weren’t informed about resources available to them, and 84% said they weren’t appropriately informed about the abortion procedure. Pregnancy resource centers make all of this information available to women before they make their decision.

Gov. Kristi Noem responded to Schreier’s decision, saying, “Given that the US Supreme Court will soon decide on the constitutionality of prohibiting abortion before ‘viability,’ we are asking the 8th Circuit to recognize that the people’s legislators should have the ability to pass pro-life laws.” Noem said the ruling will be appealed.

Another provision in the 2011 law requiring a three-day waiting period before an abortion was able to go into effect. In South Dakota, abortion is also restricted to before 20 weeks, the use of telemedicine to administer the abortion pill is prohibited, and there is a trigger law that will ban abortion in the state if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

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