South Dakota Right to Life President Dr. Fred Deutsch offers the following column in response to a February 26th Article by Dana Ferguson appearing in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, which Dr. Deutsch contends contains questionable statements and misrepresented the nature and provisions of the bill. Fred offered a response to the Argus Leader, but indicates that they refused to print it, and that the Argus “stands by Dana Ferguson’s reporting” and “won’t be running this response.”
Today, the Governor signed the bill into law. And we have Fred’s response for your consideration:
On February 26, 2018, the Argus Leader published an article written by Dana Ferguson.
That article, from beginning to end, contains false statements of fact and completely misrepresents the nature and provisions of South Dakota’s S110 bill.
The bill establishes that the abortion industry in SD uses biased practices when it comes to compliance with current informed consent law and lays out numerous findings of fact about the many ways the industry is not in compliance.
Because people have inquired about that article I write to set the record straight.
Ferguson, throughout the article, promotes the false inference that S110 creates new requirements for Planned Parenthood. It does not.
Further, she does not identify the one single thing the statute actually does, which is to expand previously authorized counseling for pregnant mothers at registered pregnancy help centers. We believe this law is necessary because Planned Parenthood continues to fail to comply with South Dakota’s 2005 Informed Consent Laws, the decisions of the Federal Courts, and the orders of the Federal Courts.
Some history is helpful here.
In 2005, South Dakota believed it was essential to the rights of a pregnant mother to know that “the life of a whole, separate, unique human being” would be terminated with an abortion. The legislature passed legislation requiring abortion providers inform women of this fact. This is referred to as the Human Being Disclosure. Planned Parenthood refused to obey the disclosure law. After six and a half years of litigation, which Planned Parenthood lost, and after a court expressly directing them to use the exact language of the statute, Planned Parenthood continues to refuse to make an accurate and proper Human Being Disclosure.
In 2011, South Dakota passed an Anti-Coercion Statute. This bill was passed because there was strong evidence that many pregnant mothers were being pressured or coerced into having abortions they did not want.
The statute was designed to protect the women from unwanted coercion to have an abortion. Among the provisions in the statute was the requirement that no one could schedule an abortion except a physician, and only after the physician first met with the mother and performed preliminary screening.
Further, the 2011 Anti-Coercion Statute prohibited the doctor from scheduling the abortion in less than seventy-two hours after the screening. Planned Parenthood sued over that statute as well, lost in court, and the seventy-two hour wait period went into effect about four years ago.
Prior to that wait period going into effect, every woman who went to Planned Parenthood was subjected to an abortion. In the first two years in which state statistics are available, 15% of the pregnant mothers who met with a physician for the initial screening did not come back for the second appointment and did not have the abortion. Thus, seventy-five women each year, given the chance to resist unwanted pressures, have kept the children they wanted.
Still, Planned Parenthood persisted with ongoing litigation, and in 2012 the eleven judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals held that the Suicide Disclosure component of the law (that “an abortion places a woman at increased risk for suicide ideation and suicide”), was truthful, accurate, non-misleading and relevant to the decision of the pregnant mother.
Despite the Court decisions and Court orders, Planned Parenthood’s current disclosure forms flatly state that there is no such risk. That is not only a violation of the law and the Court’s orders, but is negligent conduct which violates the rights of the pregnant mother to make an informed decision before consenting to a procedure which is fatal for her child, and one that terminates her own constitutionally protected relationship with her child.
Due to ongoing disregard to disclosure requirements, S110 was introduced to simply allow registered pregnancy centers like the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls to provide the counseling that Planned Parenthood has refused to provide. The bill passed overwhelmingly, 27-8 in the Senate and 56-9 in the House. Today, as I write this, it was signed by the Governor.
The state has chosen not to punish Planned Parenthood for its dereliction of duty under the Informed Consent Law. It has, instead, chosen to further assist the women by helping provide compassionate counseling by counselors who are sensitive to women who value their relationship with their children.
Ferguson’s article appears to be little more than Planned Parenthood waging a public relations campaign on matters which have no substance and on matters they know have been resolved by the Courts.
Fred Deutsch, DC
President, South Dakota Right to Life