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Planned Parenthood threatens to sue South Dakota over abortion bill

By Reuters
Friday, March 11, 2011 18:30 EDT
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SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (Reuters) – Planned Parenthood said on Friday it would sue South Dakota if Gov. Dennis Daugaard signs an abortion bill requiring women to wait 72 hours before going through with the procedure.

Sarah Stoesz, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, called the bill an “egregious violation of the Constitution.”

Along with the waiting period, the bill, passed by the state’s legislature earlier this month, requires women to undergo counseling at a “pregnancy help center” which pro-choice advocates say are often run by anti-abortion groups who try to talk women out of the procedure.

The South Dakota bill is one of many abortion curbs being pushed by conservative lawmakers in dozens of states this year. Other proposals include bans on late-term abortions and requirements that providers offer women sonograms of their fetuses.

Gov. Daugaard and his advisers are currently examining the bill, which he has until March 24 to sign, according to Daugaard spokesman Joe Kafka. Daugaard is inclined to sign it despite the lawsuit threat, Kafka said.

“It’s something that would require women to perhaps put a little more thought and a little additional time before making a decision on an abortion,” Kafka said.

Planned Parenthood’s Stoesz noted that South Dakota has already spent most of the last 15 years in litigation over abortion laws, costing the state over $500,000 in fees, plus attorney hours.

Alisha Sedor, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, called the law an intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.

“Politicians want to tell women who they can talk to before making a profoundly personal medical decision,” Sedor said.

South Dakota has one of the lowest abortion rates in the country, and abortions in the state represent 0.1 percent of all U.S. abortions, according to the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, a pro-choice group.

The state’s current abortion restrictions include a 24-hour waiting period and a requirement that a woman must be offered an opportunity to view a sonogram.

The proposed law is intended to make sure a decision to get an abortion is voluntary, uncoerced, and informed, according to the bill’s language.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski with reporting by Ann Nachtigal, editing by Tim Gaynor)

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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