APRIL 11, 2007
Abortion advocates continue their legal battle to block a South Dakota law that simply requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions that the procedure would terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.
The case will be heard this week by the entire 11-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis. South Dakota’s legislature passed the law in 2005 but an abortion rights group called Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality and a Clinton-appointed federal judge in Rapid City issued an order preventing the state from enforcing the law just days before it was to take effect.
The judge, Karen Schreier, said that the South Dakota statute could very well violate the Constitution because it “requires abortion doctors to enunciate the state’s viewpoint on an unsettled medical, philosophical, theological and scientific issue; that is, whether a fetus is a human being.”
The state appealed the ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and a three-judge panel upheld the decision 2-1 last October. South Dakota officials then asked the court’s full 11-judge panel to hear the challenge and oral arguments will take place this week.
Planned Parenthood says it is protecting patients and doctors against an ideologically driven statute that intimidates women seeking abortion. The group asserts that the law was pushed through by extremist lawmakers and violates First Amendment protections against compelling citizens to speak or listen to anything, particularly promulgated ideology.
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