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South Dakota Abortion Task Force Hears Testimony

Group was formed by state legislature to study effects of abortion


By Bob Ellis

Dakota Voice

*Editor's note: this article is reprinted from the October 20 issue of Dakota Voice  An update on the task force will be printed in the November 23 issue.

The South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion met in late September to hear expert testimony relating to abortion.

The task force heard testimony relating to the development of abortion as a medical procedure since it was legalized under Roe v. Wade, the technical and medical knowledge accumulated since Roe v. Wade (including development and ability of the unborn child to feel pain), subsequent physical and mental health of women who have undergone abortions, the biological and psychological relationship between the pregnant woman and her unborn child, and the legal relationship between woman and unborn child. 

Among those who testified was Dr. Vincent Rue of the Institute for Pregnancy Loss in Jacksonville, Florida.  Rue told the panel that women are usually under a great deal of stress when they seek an abortion, and because of that, there should be more time between her consultation with a doctor and the time the abortion is actually to take place, so that she can make a more informed, less pressured decision.  He also said that according to their studies of thousands of women who have had abortions, 48% felt they were not given enough information to make an informed choice regarding their abortion.  Rue said they were typically not provided information on the developmental stages of the unborn, or the physical and mental consequences of having an abortion.

"No woman skips into an abortion clinic," said Task Force member Dr. Allen Unruh.  "They don't look forward to it like eating a chocolate sundae. It's more likened to an animal caught in a trap and it knows it will have to gnaw its leg off to get free." 

The South Dakota legislature this year passed HB 1166, an informed consent bill requiring abortion providers to give medically-accurate information about the effects of abortion.   The law was passed with bi-partisan support (58-10 in the SD House, 24-10 in the SD Senate). When this law is enforced,  abortionists will be required to tell women about the life of their unborn child, their parental rights regarding the child,  and the medical risks from abortion. This is required to be done verbally and in writing.

However, Planned Parenthood filed suit against implementation of the law, and it is now in court. 

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier ruled on June 30 that the law was an unconstitutional violation of free speech. Schreier issued an injunction stopping the state from enforcing the law while the lawsuit continued.  Many expect the case to end up before the Supreme Court.

The task force also heard testimony from former National Right to Life Committee President John Willke, Stanley Henshaw of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, and lawyer Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.  The latter two testified in support of abortion rights.

About 1.3 million children were aborted last year.  It is estimated that over 45 million children have been aborted since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in 1973..

The task force was to hear expert and public testimony in late October, but details of that meeting were not available at the time this article was printed.

The task force is comprised of the following members: State Senator Stan Adelstein (R-Rapid City), Dr. Marty Allison of Pierre, State Senator Julie Bartling (D-Burke), Dr. Maria Bell of Sioux Falls, Travis Benson of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, University of South Dakota law professor David Day, State Senator Jay Duenwald (R-Hoven), State Senator Brock Greenfield (R-Clark), Rapid City therapist Linda Holcomb, State Rep. Roger Hunt (R-Brandon), State Rep. Elizabeth Kraus (R-Rapid City), Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota Director Kate Looby, State Rep. Kathy Miles (D-Sioux Falls), John Stransky, State Rep. Theresa Two Bulls (D-Pine Ridge), Dr. Allen Unruh of Sioux Falls, and Dr. David Wachs of Aberdeen.

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