Federal Judge Ruins Kristi Noem's Plan To Torture Abortion Patients With Anti-Choice Counseling

Federal Judge Ruins Kristi Noem's Plan To Torture Abortion Patients With Anti-Choice Counseling
Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that any person in possession of a womb is just too incredibly stupid and ignorant to decide for themselves that they want an abortion or even to know that adoption exists. Well, not universally so much as "in the South Dakota legislature and governor's office."

In 2011, the state of South Dakota tried to pass a very terrible anti-abortion law that would require anyone seeking an abortion to go to so-called crisis pregnancy centers in order to be talked out of having said abortion by a bunch of anti-choice fanatics.

Here is the actual law they wanted, in all its glory. Part of it, anyway.:

[P]rovide [the pregnant woman] with written instructions that set forth the following:

(a) That prior to the day of any scheduled abortion the pregnant mother must have a consultation at a pregnancy help center at which the pregnancy help center shall inform her about what education, counseling, and other assistance is available to help the pregnant mother keep and care for her child, and have a private interview to discuss her circumstances that may subject her decision to coercion;

(b) That prior to signing a consent to an abortion, the physician shall first obtain from the pregnant mother, a written statement that she obtained a consultation with a pregnancy help center, which sets forth the name and address of the pregnancy help center, the date and time of the consultation, and the name of the counselor at the pregnancy help center with whom she consulted[.]

This, obviously, was a very horrible idea and that is why Planned Parenthood sued the state to keep the law from going into effect. At the time, Judge Karen Schreier found in favor of Planned Parenthood and issued an injunction.

But last year, Governor Kristi Noem decided to revisit that law, joining forces with a bunch of "crisis pregnancy centers" to petition Judge Schreier to lift the injunction and allow the law to go through, on the grounds that there had been several amendments and changes to the law since 2011. However, all of those amendments and changes actually made the law even more of a violation of the rights of abortion patients, which led Judge Schreier to uphold her previous injunction.

Per her ruling:

The 2012 amendments increased the scope of counseling appointments, adding the ability for counselors to screen whether a woman seeking an abortion has been subjected to "pressure," in addition to coercion. 2012 S.D. Sess. Laws ch. 186 § 7. That amendment broadens the scope of the counseling session and increases the personal issues that a woman may be asked to discuss.

The 2016 amendments mandate that pregnancy help center counseling be conducted in accordance with the Uniform Policy Procedures and Guidelines promulgated by the South Dakota Association of Registered Pregnancy Help Centers. 2016 S.D. Sess. Laws ch. 179 § 3. Those guidelines, in turn, require that before making an appointment, a pregnant woman give the center "her name, telephone number, name of the physician who referred her, and the address or location of the physician who referred her."

Gov. Noem is very upset about this, claiming that in refusing to let this very bad law go into effect, Judge Schreier had rejected the will of the people.

Today's decision by the District Court refused to dissolve the injunction, so the law passed by the people's representatives is suspended until a final court decision is rendered. In doing so, the Court rejected the will of the people when it comes to protecting unborn life.

Judges do tend to do that, when the "will of the people" is supremely unconstitutional and also violates the rights of other people.

South Dakota still has a host of terrible anti-choice laws — including the three-day waiting period requirement that Judge Schreier has also issued an injunction against — but at least, for now, there's not that one.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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