SIOUX FALLS, SD, July 24, 2012, ( – South Dakota won a critical legal battle today, as the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the last contested portion of a 2005 pro-life law.

The law, H.B. 1166, requires that women considering abortion be told critical biological information and directed to alternate means of help before undergoing an abortion.

By a 7-4 vote, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a portion of the law that tells women abortion leads to an increased risk of depression and suicide. “On its face, the suicide advisory presents neither an undue burden on abortion rights nor a violation of physicians’ free speech rights,” the full court ruled.

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A three-judge panel of that court had earlier ratified U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier’s decision to overturn the suicide provision. The full court disagreed with their colleagues.

The ruling ends a long-running legal dispute. The law also requires doctors to inform women that abortion increases their chance of hemorrhages and infertility, describe fetal development at the unborn child’s gestational age, and state that abortion “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

The organization that runs the state’s only abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, sued.

The 8th Circuit Appeals Court found the majority of the law constitutional last September, but the suicide link remained an open question, until today. At the time, Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender wrote that “even the evidence relied upon by Planned Parenthood acknowledges a significant, known statistical correlation between abortion and suicide.” Planned Parenthood had been less than confident of success when facing the full panel.

Numerous studies have confirmed a link between abortion, depression, and suicide. A 2008 study by the University of Oslo concluded, “Young adult women who undergo induced abortion may be at increased risk for subsequent depression.”

In 2005, Finland’s National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health (STAKES) studied the deaths of all women of reproductive age over a 13-year period (1987-2000). It found deaths from suicide, accidents and homicide are 248 percent higher in the year following an abortion, while women who had given birth in the past year had the lowest likelihood of death. 

Leslee Unruh, the founder of the Alpha Center, a pregnancy counseling center in Sioux Falls, told the Associated Press that it had been “a long, long haul. We are so excited for the women of South Dakota that they have this victory.”