The 8th Circuit Court Okays South Dakota’s Political Interference in Women’s Personal Medical Decision-Making

The 700 or so women each year who have an abortion in South Dakota go to the only abortion clinic in the state, where one doctor performs abortions once a week (three different doctors rotate that shift). After last Friday's 8th Circuit Court decision in Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota v. Rounds (PDF), those three doctors are now forced, by law, to tell each of these women that “An abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” This restriction is just one more tactic that anti-choice forces have used to chip away at the constitutional right to abortion in what is already one of the most restricted states.

The ACLU believes that a woman needs medically accurate information to make the best choices for herself and her circumstances, without undue pressure. She should be able to trust that the advice she receives from her physician reflects what her physician believes is in her best interest, not something that her physician has been forced to say by the government.

Clearly those in the South Dakota legislature who voted to pass the law,and the 8th Circuit judges who voted to uphold it, disagree.

The law also forces a doctor to tell his or her patient that she “has an existing relationship with that unborn human being” and if she has an abortion, “her existing relationship and her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated.”

The court's decision comes in the midst of a challenge to the law the South Dakota legislature passed in 2005 that requires a physician performing an abortion (those three rotating doctors at that one clinic that performs abortions one day per week) to recite to their patients all of those opinions masquerading as fact. The court determined that the law could go into effect while Planned Parenthood continues its challenge, and the court specifically said that it is unlikely that Planned Parenthood will succeed on its claim that the law violates doctors’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to deliver an ideologically-driven message with which they disagree.

If the law's language sounds like anti-choice rhetoric, it's because it was written by an anti-choice activist — the lawyer Harold J. Cassidy. He tried a similar tactic in New Jersey a few years ago by bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a physician who performed an abortion and who didn't tell his patients what those three rotating doctors in South Dakota are now forced to tell theirs: that abortion terminates the life of a separate, unique human being.

Last September the New Jersey Supreme Court — in a unanimous decision — threw out the case, noting:

We know of no common law duty requiring a physician to instruct the woman that the embryo is an ‘existing human being,’ and suggesting that an abortion is tantamount to murder.There is not even remotely a consensus among New Jersey’s medical community or citizenry that plaintiff’s assertions are medical facts, as opposed to firmly held, moral philosophical and religious beliefs.

A similar case is pending in Chicago.

Women's heath is best promoted when a woman has the information and access to make healthy life decisions based on her own values and her own unique circumstances. Ensuring this principle means stopping anti-choice activists like Cassidy and South Dakota's lawmakers from playing politics with our lives.

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Mark Jaquith

the constitutional right to abortion

So here we have a post about an court case involving an inferred constitutional right (about which there is hardly consensus among civil libertarians), but not a peep about the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Second Amendment -- an explicit individual constitutional right? It's decisions like this that make people doubt the ACLU's credibility on human rights matters -- you ignore human rights that aren't valued by the Left.


It's so sad that the ACLU is so driven by extremist facsist idealogy with a distorted view of America. They will defend the practice of infaticide while tellibng their kool-aid drinking supporters that they re defending American's civil liberties. My question to the ACLU fascists is this; why should doctors who are performing surgery on a patient not be required by law to tell them the truth about the procedure, whatever it may be? The statement the ACLU fascists have an issue with is “An abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” I guess they are afraid that there will be less abortions or something if the woman is given the sad truth of the procedure. Which means less taxpayers funding of Planned Parenthood, oh the horrors of it all. The fact is that the above statement is not "ideology" but rather the facts. The ACLU is so dumbed down that they forget their basic human biology. Why doesn't the ACLU start defending people's righhts for real. Like the right to keep and bear arms (self-defense), an undisputable spelled out constitutional right? They have never been able to tell us where the constitution even comes near establishing a right for mothers to kill their offspring just because they are inside their womb. America is no place for leftist fascist organizations like the ACLU. I think they'd do great in countries like North Korea though.

W. Scott Standiford

We are so lucky to have the ACLU active in protecting woman's rights as to what happens to their body. Keep up the good work.

A. Hemmingway

If killing a child in the womb is ok, why isn't ok to kill a child outside the whomb? Oh, wait it is they call it partial birth abortion. Why not take it one step further and allow us to kill our children later on in life when we no longer want them, or become too costly. Why is it wonderful news to learn your pregnant when you want a child, why do all the pregnancy books tell of this wonderful journey and how exciting each step if from conception. Think about it - who decided a child that in the womb or partially out of the womb isn't a person. Why are women sad when they miscarry if all it was is nothing. What moron decided a growing baby isn't life, why fight so hard to save premature babies if they weren't ment to come out yet, after all their not a real life yet. So, ACLU when is a person a real life that killing is ok - should we kill children before 18 if the mother decides, or do the children only get right when they pay taxes. I can't believe this was ever an issue. Someone having an abortion should know what's involved just like some having any other surgery gets explained what will happen, risks, and possible results of the surgery. You people have no value of life, your not God so what makes you think it ok to determine what is life or not. This day an age no one should get pregnant if they don't want to,there are plenty of contraceptives, or keep your legs closed, I know thats a wild idea. Planned Parent Hood, their slogan should be "Helping Children Kill Children"

Nathanael Nerode

"There is not even remotely a consensus among New Jersey’s medical community or citizenry that plaintiff’s assertions are medical facts,"

In fact, there is a medical consensus that the statements required by South Dakota are false, medically. Embryos are certainly not separate from the women they inhabit. Most would agree that they are not "whole". And it's also arguable whether they're living, according to the biological definition of life.

Can the government require doctors to lie to their patients? Apparently in South Dakota they can. Medically, embryos are most accurately classed as parasites; if doctors were required to tell pregnant women "You have a parasite living within you and feeding off your blood", that would in fact be medically accurate. I don't think doctors should be required to tell women that! So they *certainly* shouldn't be required to lie.

Requiring doctors to lie to their patients is just unbelievably evil.


Nathanael, how about you think about what you say before you start rewriting biology. There may be a physical attachment between the embryo or fetus, with the mother, but it is absolutely a seperate entity. Seperate Entity means seperate existance, which is 100% accurate because the fetus is a different human person than the mother and because of the term entity, a physical attachment holds no water to say that statement is false. If an unborn person is not whole, then when does it become whole. Read middle school biology and you'll see that there is nothing added to the fetus EVER - after birth and throughout its entire life. It just grows. And if that is you're definition of "whole" and not being whole makes you not a person, then we are all fair game until we are fully grown and developed, which is arguably never and at earliest late teens or twenties. Educate yourself to an eight grade level with vocab and science. Your statements show arrogance and ignorance.


However You slice it, Nat is correct. looking at Biological terms, a fetus IS classified as a parasite in the scheme of it. Grows and feeds off a host until it separates from it. No matter what sort of parasite it is (human, bug, etc) without the host to feed off of, the fetus would die, hence a parasite. so obviously there is something being put inside of the organism. Does it make it correct to abort one? That is the right of each and every woman that becomes pregnant. Is it YOUR right to decide what the pregnant person going into the Doctor should do? No, it is not. Keep your false christian god out of the Bill of Rights.


To the person that wrote the last comment, your ignorance and false assumptions show how pathetic your arguments are. If you ever cared to look in a dictionary before running your mouth you'd see that by definition, parasites are a different organism than the host. This shows that you're wrong with your parasite theory, not because I have a differing opinion, but because what you said is flat out not true. The only way you could continue such a stupid argument is by delving deeper into lies by saying that a fetus is not a human. A fetus is a human, and that's a simple, elementary biological fact. Is there obviously something being "put" inside the unborn person? Yes, the fetus must get nourishment. But if that means that the fetus is not "whole" and therefore unworthy of any human rights, nobody would be worthy of rights. We ALL need nourishment from conception to death, so it is wrong and dangerous to single out people at certain stages in life (pre-born) and say they don't have rights because they require nourishment. You ask if it is correct to abort one (I assume you're talking about a pre-born child) and that is a matter of opinion. Serial killers tend to hold opinions that lead them to disregard the life of all stages of human life. But just because they hold the opinion that it's okay to kill, doesn't mean they have the right to aggress against another, and they are not immune from the consequences of doing so. It's my right and duty to defend the defenseless and innocent, so yes it is definitely within my scope to say that abortionists and women cannot kill innocent defenseless human beings. They'll do it anyway, but I'll fight for it to be outlawed at the federal level and rightfully equated with murder. Someday abortion prosecutions would be turned over to states under my plan, where they ultimately belong, but just like every other civil rights protections, it usually has to start at the federal level. Also, it is extremely unnecessary to make false assumptions about my religion or God while showing unnecessary hostility towards Christianity and the God they may believe in - it's very immature. And for your information, I don't really believe in God, I hate organized religion including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam although I respect its right to exist. I could be well described as agnostic or a religious skeptic. Oh, also, the Bill of Rights ironically protects freedom of religion and many other individual rights that you may see fit to toss out the window, but instead you decided to pretend they support your fascist agenda. Maybe you are a genius after all.

Pete B in Ca

Maybe someone could enlighten me on how it is that an organization could fight so vigorously against capital punishment, protecting convicted murderers. But at the same time support the killing of unborn children, who are innocent.

It is not the childs fault that they were conceived. If you do not want them give them up for adoption.

Eric T.

I think it is funny that this article refers to people as "anti-choice". OK lets play this little game.

The anti-life advocates support a position of uneducated irresponsible behavior. When anti-life people get involved with an issue they love to throw scare words out about this issue being about freedom and liberty and free speech. That is completely wrong. The anti-life movement needs to realize that there support of irresponsible sex is what leads to so many unwanted pregnancies. Abortion is a symptom of the problem. A horrible wrong symptom that the irresponsible wish to keep around to protect there ability to be stupid. The ANTI-LIFE movement is based on bad judgements and will soon be over.

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