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South Dakota abortion waiting period challenged

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Friday challenging a South Dakota law [HB 1217 materials] requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days before obtaining an abortion [JURIST news archive]. The law, signed [JURIST report] by Governor Dennis Daugaard [official website] in March, is set to take effect July 1 and would impose the longest waiting period in the country. The groups filed suit in the US District Court for the District of South Dakota [official website] seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional. According to the complaint:

If the Act takes effect, it will deny, among other things, Plaintiffs' patients their constitutional right to decide whether to have a child, as well as their patients' and physicians' First Amendment freedoms and their patients' right to informational privacy; and subject Plaintiffs and their physicians to significant licensing penalties, including revocation of Planned Parenthood's license to operate a health care facility in Sioux Falls and its physicians' licenses to practice medicine, as well as criminal and civil penalties. To avoid this irreparable harm, Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief against the Act.
South Dakota law already requires that women wait 24 hours and be offered the opportunity to view a sonogram before undergoing an abortion procedure.

Several other states have also acted recently to tighten restrictions on abortions. Earlier this week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton [official website] vetoed a pair of bills [JURIST report] that restricted state funding for abortions and banned them altogether after 20 weeks. Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] signed into law a bill that requires women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram [JURIST report]. Multiple states have acted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain, including Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and Idaho [JURIST reports].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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