Pro-Lifers Praise Ruling Allowing Statement on Abortion

By Kaitlynn Riely | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

( - South Dakota may enforce a law that requires doctors to provide pregnant women with a written statement saying, "the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being," a federal appeals court ruled last Friday.

In Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit voted 7-4 to strike down a 2005 preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for South Dakota.

The injunction had prevented a statute - requiring abortion providers to tell women, in writing, that an abortion would terminate the life of a "living human being" - from taking effect. The decision by the appeals court reversed the injunction and remanded it to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

The lawsuit, filed by Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, required the court to consider whether the definition of human being should include "the unborn human being during the entire embryonic and fetal ages from fertilization to full gestation."

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and Attorney General Larry Long, representing the state, argued against Planned Parenthood in the suit, providing evidence that the embryo or fetus is "whole, separate, unique and living."

The court's ruling said, "Planned Parenthood submitted no evidence to oppose that conclusion."

The court cited a bioethicist's affidavit, submitted by Planned Parenthood, which stated that "to describe an embryo or fetus scientifically and factually, one would say that a living embryo or fetus in utero is a developing organism of the species Homo Sapiens which may become a self-sustaining member of the species if no organic or environmental evidence interrupts its gestation."

Kyle Holt, director of operations for South Dakota Right to Life, told Cybercast News Service that he was pleased with the court's decision.

"The Eighth Circuit Court's ruling is another significant pro-life victory in South Dakota," Holt said. "It sheds light on the ugly reality that abortion ends the life of a living, breathing human being. Women deserve to know the truth, and now they can."

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) was disappointed by the decision. The organization said the South Dakota statute violates doctors' and patients' constitutional rights by interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.

"This case is about whether women in South Dakota should be able to make private health care decisions with their doctors - free from political interference," Mimi Liu, PPFA staff attorney, said in a statement.

"Planned Parenthood asked the court to strike down this unconstitutional law and protect the doctor-patient relationship from government interference and state-mandated ideology," Liu added.

The Liberty Counsel, a pro-life, conservative litigation group, said the court's ruling affirms the humanity of the unborn.

"Planned Parenthood is founded on a lie and it seeks to deceive women into thinking that abortion is good for them and that it does not involve a separate human being," Matthew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. "When the truth about abortion is known, very few women will choose to kill their children."

Casey Murschel, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, voted against the South Dakota informed consent law as a state legislator.

"We all agree that a woman considering abortion, like any patient, should receive from her doctor full and unbiased information about a range of medical options, but the law in question puts politicians into the examining room," Murschel said in a statement.

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