By Jenna Murphy

PIERRE, SOUTH DAKOTA, July 22, 2008, ( – This past Friday, a law mandating that South Dakota’s physicians tell all women seeking an abortion that they are “terminating the life of a whole separate, unique living human being” went into effect.

Though the state law was passed in 2005, Planned Parenthood successfully challenged the legislation in the courts, causing a preliminary injunction to be established that prevented the law from being put into effect.

That injunction, however, expired on Friday, and now all physicians performing abortions at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls – the state’s only acknowledged abortuary – must present the client with the specific language as it has been formulated by law. A woman must certify in writing that she understands no earlier than two hours before the procedure is conducted (Slevin, Washington Post, 7/20).

The law also mandates that a woman who seeks an abortion must be told that she is willingly putting herself at a higher risk of suicide and depression and that in choosing to end the life of her child she is terminating an ‘existing relationship’ that is protected by the US constitution and that her “existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated.”

Another related law took effect on July 1, requiring doctors in South Dakota to ask a woman seeking an abortion if she wants to see a sonogram of her baby.

About 700 abortions are performed in South Dakota each year.

Although 32 states have informed consent regulations, South Dakota is the only state that includes the reference to an unborn baby as “a whole, separate, unique living human being.”


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