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Oral Arguments Heard in South Dakota Abortion Appeal

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By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on January 13, 2012 3:03 PM

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in its en banc hearing of South Dakota's controversial 2005 abortion law expanding its informed consent provisions.

Although the Eighth Circuit upheld the majority of South Dakota's informed consent law last year, its decision to strike one part of the law has continued to receive attention.

Citing no reliable medical evidence of the connection between an increased risk of suicide and abortion, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit struck out a provision requiring a suicide advisory to women seeking abortions. Despite its decision, however, the court decided to rehear the issue of the suicide advisory in an en banc hearing on the matter.

During oral arguments, questions reportedly arose regarding a doctor's First Amendment right to speak with their patients about studies that suggest suicide and suicide ideation is a legitimate medical concern in receiving an abortion, according to Examiner.com.

The petitioner, Planned Parenthood, reportedly centered their arguments around the flawed connection between abortion and suicide, arguing that presenting the conclusion to patients would be misrepresentation.

"Telling here that there is an increased risk is misleading," Planned Parenthood's attorneys reportedly argued. "This case is about reliable data, not the absence of it."

In a related, recently-held Court of Appeal decision regarding informed consent for abortions, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state of Texas can enforce its own revised informed consent law while plaintiffs proceed with their challenge in court. The law requires a doctor to perform a sonogram on a woman requesting an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure, describe the unborn child, and list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion.

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