U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Eighth Circuit to Hold En Banc Hearing on Informed Consent Law

Two months after a three-justice panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a provision of South Dakota's informed consent law, the Court of Appeal announced they will hold an en banc hearing on the matter.

The controversial law in question expanded South Dakota's requirements for informed consent to abortion in 2005. The Court of Appeals upheld the majority of the law's provisions - such as informing the patient that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being - in September.

However, the Court of Appeals did uphold the district court's decision to strike out the suicide advisory that the procedure puts women at an increased risk of "suicide ideation and suicide." Citing no reliable medical evidence of the connection between the two, the Court of Appeals initially held the provision could mislead women and would significantly constrain doctors' exercise of their professional judgment.

Despite the Court of Appeal's decision to rehear the issue of the suicide advisory, the appellants remained confident that the court's original ruling would be upheld considering previous rulings.

"The scientific research is on our side," said Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. "We are confident that the en banc court, after reviewing the merits of this issue, will uphold two prior decisions which held that the weight of reliable evidence says abortion does not subject women to an increased risk of suicide."

The en banc hearing of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled for Jan. 9, 2012.

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