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South Dakota requires 3-day wait before abortion

By the CNN Wire Staff
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New law: Wait 72 hours before abortion
  • South Dakota governor signs abortion bill
  • It requires a woman to wait 72 hours after consultation before abortion
  • She must also get counseling at "pregnancy help center"
  • Barring legal challenge, the bill takes effect July 1

(CNN) -- A new South Dakota law requiring a woman to get counseling at a "pregnancy help center" and wait 72 hours after a physician assessment before having an abortion appears destined for a legal challenge.

Law opponents say the waiting period would be the longest in the nation.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who signed House Bill 1217 on Tuesday, is anticipating such a move.

The restrictive bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Roger Hunt, has pledged to raise private funds to help finance any needed defense, Daugaard said in a statement.

"I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives," Daugaard. "I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices."

The law, which also requires the woman to receive counseling at a "pregnancy help center," is currently scheduled to take effect July 1.

But the American Civil Liberties Union and a regional office of Planned Parenthood said they will file a lawsuit to stop the law.

"Planned Parenthood's legal team has determined that this bill is such an egregious violation of the Constitution, that we will file suit if the governor signs it," said the Planned Parenthood office for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota before Daugaard's action.

"The law also purports to ensure that women are 'informed' before consenting to an abortion, but actually imposes requirements that are both impossible to meet and require physicians to flood their patients with false and misleading information," the group said in a statement.

Chris Hupke, head of South Dakota's Family Policy Council, told CNN Sioux Falls affiliate KSFY that "Planned Parenthood has not done anything to police itself when a woman is being coerced into this action."

Hupke says the centers will provide important counseling about abortion and offer alternatives "so that women get the information so that they can make an informed decision, a voluntary decision."

The Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based research center for sexual and reproductive health, says that 34 states require that women receive counseling before an abortion is performed. Twenty-five of those states also require women to wait a specified amount of time -- usually 24 hours-- between the counseling and the abortion procedure, the group says.

Language at the beginning of the bill states that it establishes "certain procedures to better insure that [abortion] decisions are voluntary, uncoerced, and informed, and to revise certain causes of action for professional negligence relating to performance of an abortion."

Under the law, no physician may have the pregnant woman sign a consent for the abortion on the day of the initial consultation. The doctor must perform an assessment and cannot schedule a procedure "to take place in less than 72 hours from the completion of such consultation and assessment except in medical emergency."

The physician will discuss risk factors with the woman and must provide information on "pregnancy help centers," according to the law. The woman must undergo a pregnancy center consultation prior to the day of any scheduled abortion and provide written proof to the doctor.

Planned Parenthood said the centers "must have as their central mission a desire to dissuade a woman from having an abortion, no matter what her particular risks or circumstances."

South Dakota obstetrician Marvin Buehner told CNN Rapid City affiliate KEVN that the new law is "government-mandated interference in the doctor/patient relationship."