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Planned Parenthood Reaches Settlement with South Dakota

In a challenge to a 1972 abortion law in South Dakota, Planned Parenthood has now reached a settlement with the state, allowing abortions to be performed outside a hospital setting after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The 1972 laws made it a felony to perform an outpatient abortion after 12 weeks of a pregnancy, and Planned Parenthood challenged the law for effectively eliminating women’s ability to get an abortion during the second trimester. US District Judge Karen Schreier in 2002 overturned the law, agreeing that it created “a substantial obstacle to a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion,” reports Kaiser. However, the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision in 2004 and ordered hearings to determine the law’s constitutionality.

The settlement in this case extends the limit on outpatient abortions to 14 weeks and 6 days after the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period. State director for Planned Parenthood Kate Looby told the Associated Press that “we negotiated a settlement with the state of South Dakota in order to guarantee that we can provide an extensive range of reproductive health services to women in South Dakota.” Should circumstances change, and Planned Parenthood find a need to perform abortions after 14 weeks, the settlement allows that the case can be reopened. Planned Parenthood is the only abortion clinic in South Dakota, although the Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls has also allowed abortions when a pregnancy threatens a woman’ life or health, AP reports.

Planned Parenthood is currently challenging another restrictive South Dakota law, which requires doctors to inform women of the risks, consequences and alternatives to abortion, including the language that abortion “terminates the life of a human being” and that women have a relationship with their “unborn child.” Judge Schreier has issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the law during the case.

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Sources:

Associated Press 8/16/05; Feminist Daily News 7/8/05; Kaiser 8/18/05