PIERRE, South Dakota (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge has blocked a South Dakota law that mandates an abortion-bound woman wait at least 72-hours between her initial consultation and aborting her child.
The law was set to take effect July 1, until U.S. District Court Chief Judge Karen Schreier handed down her 61-page preliminary ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood of of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
HB1217 is aimed at preventing mothers from being coerced into having an abortion, and also requires women to have a one-on-one session with a crisis pregnancy center counselor during the waiting period.
The mother would have to certify that she obtained counseling, and learned about assistance available to help her “keep and care for her child” prior to the abortion.
Schreier ruled that Planned Parenthood’s challenge was likely to succeed, saying that the law’s counseling requirement would “constitute a substantial obstacle to a woman’s decision to obtain an abortion.” The judge also said the mandated delay could force some abortion-bound women to wait up to a month between visits to the abortion clinic.
Planned Parenthood, which operates the state’s only abortion clinic, celebrated the ruling as a “decisive victory.” The organization’s regional president and CEO accused state lawmakers of intruding “into difficult decisions women and families sometimes need to make.”
Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who signed HB 1217 into law in March, stood by the measure.
“I believe everyone agrees – no matter what their stance on abortion – that it’s a laudable goal to reduce abortions by encouraging consideration of other alternatives,” Daugaard said in a statement. “The three-day waiting period called for in HB1217 gives women time to reflect and make good choices.”
The nationwide surge of pro-life legislation in recent months – and even weeks – has prompted Planned Parenthood to fight multiple legal battles simultaneously in several states, a fact Roger Evans, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of public policy litigation, lamented to Politico.
Evans said his organization is “named or contemplated in so many pieces of legislation” that they expect they will have suits in six states by the end of the year, something he called “completely unprecedented from ever before.”
While nearly half of U.S. states have 24-hour waiting periods for abortion, South Dakota is the first state to enact a three-day waiting period.