A federal appeals court upheld a South Dakota law on Tuesday that requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions that the procedure causes an increased risk of suicide.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the provision is constitutional by a vote of 7-4. The seven judges in the majority were all appointed by former President George W. Bush.
The abortion/suicide provision is part of a larger bill the South Dakota legislature passed in March 2005. Planned Parenthood Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota challenged the law in June 2005, arguing that it violates free speech rights by forcing doctors to tell women information that is not based on reliable research. (A 2008 Johns Hopkins review of various studies on the link between abortion and suicide concluded that the highest quality studies showed few, if any, differences between the mental health of women who'd had abortions and women who hadn't.
A district judge granted a preliminary injunction against the law that year, and an appeals court reaffirmed the decision to block the law a year later in 2006. But the state of South Dakota along with two crisis pregnancy centers appealed the law again, and the panel of judges ruled Tuesday that "the suicide advisory presents neither an undue burden on abortion rights nor a violation of physicians' free speech rights."
A Planned Parenthood spokesperson said the organization is "extremely disappointed" by the ruling.
“Every reputable researcher and medical organization has determined that there is no sound scientific evidence that shows a cause and effect relationship between abortion and suicide," said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of PPMNS, in a statement. "This law, upheld by the court today, is just one of many reprehensible barriers that South Dakota politicians are determined to impose on women seeking safe and legal health care.”
The Alpha Center pregnancy counseling center in Sioux Falls, S.D., an anti-abortion nonprofit that helped defend the law in court, applauded Tuesday's decision in a statement to The Sacramento Bee.
"We are thrilled. This has been a long time working from 2005," she said. "It's a long, long haul. We are so excited for the women of South Dakota that they have this victory."
99 Problems (JAY-Z)
Eric Fehrnstrom, senior campaign adviser for Mitt Romney, <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/06/03/494238/fehrnstrom-shiny-objects-women/" target="_hplink">said on Sunday</a> that issues pertaining to women's reproductive rights, such as abortion and birth control, were "shiny objects" meant to distract voters from the real issues. "Mitt Romney is pro-life," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "He'll govern as a pro-life president, but you're going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people's attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election."
The Senate will vote Thursday on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and make it illegal for employers to punish women for bringing up pay disparity issues. Dana Perino, a Fox News contributor and former press secretary for President George W. Bush, <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/30/perino-equal-pay-issue-is-a-distraction-for-just-48-hours/" target="_hplink">called the equal pay issue</a> "a distraction" from the country's real financial problems last week. "Well, it's just yet another distraction of dealing with the major financial issues that the country should be dealing with," Perino said. "This is not a job creator."
Just My Imagination (The Temptations)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose home state's legislature recently defunded Planned Parenthood and voted to pass a bill that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/john-mccain-war-on-women_n_1455591.html" target="_hplink">delivered a floor speech</a> in which he insisted that the war on women is something imaginary for Democrats to "sputter about." "My friends, this supposed 'War on Women' or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are purely political in their purpose and effect: The first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television," he said.
Butterfly Fly Away (Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus)
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tried to trivialize concerns about the legislative "war on women" by comparing it to a "war on caterpillars." "If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we'd have problems with caterpillars," Priebus <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-05/priebus-says-gender-battle-as-fictonal-as-caterpillar-war.html" target="_hplink">said in an April interview</a> on Bloomberg Television. "It's a fiction."
Distraction (Angels And Airwaves)
Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman (R) took heat from her opponents in May when she contended that Democratic lawmakers' focus on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act was "a distraction" from the issues they should be dealing with instead. "I think it's unfortunate that the Democrats have made a political football out of this thing, which I think is what they keep doing to distract from real problems that are facing our nation," she said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.
We Don't Care (Kanye West)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) defended the Republican Party in April for going after insurance coverage for contraception by arguing that women don't actually care about contraception. "Women don't care about contraception," she said on ABC's The View. "They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families and all those other things."