Planned Parenthood Sues Over Informed Consent Mandate

Planned Parenthood is suing in a case disputing a South Dakota statute, which was enacted in 2005, that mandates all women receive information of the medical risks of an abortion. Planned Parenthood claims that  the disclosure requirements in § 7(1)(b)-(d) and the physician certification requirement in § 7 ¶ 2 violate physicians’ free speech rights; that the disclosure requirements in §§ 7(1)(e)(i)-(ii) and (2)(c) are unconstitutionally vague in that they fail to give physicians adequate notice of the conduct proscribed; that being subjected to the disclosures in § 7(1)(b)-(d) unduly burdens patients’ rights to an abortion and violates their free speech rights; and that § 7 unduly burdens patients’ right to an abortion because its health exception is inadequate.

Section 7 of the Act, the statute in question, states:

No abortion may be performed unless the physician first obtains a
voluntary and informed written consent of the pregnant woman upon
whom the physician intends to perform the abortion, unless the physician
determines that obtaining an informed consent is impossible due to a
medical emergency.

Additionally, information that must be included for the consent to be considered informed is listed:

(1) A statement in writing providing the following information:
(a) The name of the physician who will perform the abortion;
(b) That the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate,
unique, living human being;
(c) That the pregnant woman has an existing relationship with
that unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys
protection under the United States Constitution and under the
laws of South Dakota;
(d) That by having an abortion, her existing relationship and her
existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will
be terminated;
(e) A description of all known medical risks of the procedure and
statistically significant risk factors to which the pregnant woman
would be subjected, including:
(i) Depression and related psychological distress;
(ii) Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide;

(2) A statement by telephone or in person, by the physician who is to
perform the abortion, or by the referring physician, or by an agent of
both, at least twenty-four hours before the abortion, providing the
following information:
(a) That medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal
care, childbirth, and neonatal care;
(b) That the father of the unborn child is legally responsible to
provide financial support for her child following birth, and that
this legal obligation of the father exists in all instances, even in
instances in which the father has offered to pay for the abortion;-4-
(c) The name, address, and telephone number of a pregnancy help
center in reasonable proximity of the abortion facility where the
abortion will be performed.

I have no background in law and therefore have no idea if Planned Parenthood actually possesses any legal grounds for their lawsuit. However, as a healthcare professional I can attest to the medical soundness of the required statements in § 7(1)(b)-(e) regardless of the political controversy that those statements might possess. Thus, it would seem to me that to dispute the informing of patients with scientifically-supported, medically pertinent information concerning any procedure as in violation of the free speech rights of both the physician and the patient is ludicrous. Of course, that’s a medical perspective. Perhaps politically this is indeed a perfectly sound move for Planned Parenthood – but then I can only speculate as to why they would assert that informed consent violates free speech; I’m not them.

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One thought on “Planned Parenthood Sues Over Informed Consent Mandate

  1. If they do have a case, then wouldn’t that mean that doctors and pharmacists who object to the morning after pill don’t even have to refer patients to other doctors or pharmacists who don’t object? After all, that would violate free speech.

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