Today, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that South Dakota has the right to order doctors to tell women seeking abortions that they're likelier to kill themselves if they go through with the procedure, even though that's a blatant lie.
The controversial provision is part of a larger law that was introduced in 2005 and might as well be called, "Everything You Need to Know About Abortion, According to People Who Aren't Medical Professionals But Love Obsessing Over Your Fetus." It requires doctors to let women know that they have "an existing relationship with the unborn human being under the law" and that "an abortion will terminate the life of a human being." So helpful, given as most women seeking abortions have absolutely no idea what the medical procedure ultimately entails. They thought they were just going to get some frozen yogurt!
But the most troubling part of the law is the part that refers to suicide advisory, which is why Planned Parenthood has been fighting it for the past few years. As the AP reports:
The ruling ultimately was a battle of medical studies. Statistics show women who have had abortions have higher rates of suicide compared with women who have given birth, but the sides don't agree that there's a causal link between abortion and suicide.
The four dissenting judges said multiple studies cited failed to take into account factors such as pre-existing mental health issues, domestic violence and a young age at the time of pregnancy.
"The most reliable evidence in the record shows that abortion does not have a causal relationship to the risk of suicide and that South Dakota's mandated advisory is not truthful, but actually misleading," Circuit Judge Diana Murphy wrote for the dissenting side.
So basically, even though all of the studies that support the link between suicide and abortion are considered bullshit by practically every legitimate medical expert out there, the state ultimately gets to decide which science is the best science.
"On its face, the suicide advisory presents neither an undue burden on abortion rights nor a violation of physicians' free speech rights," the court wrote in its majority opinion, which sounds like quite the compromise. Tomato, Tomahto, who cares if some women are bullied into making medical choices because they're afraid of repercussions that don't actually exist?
Scariest of all is how this ruling will almost certainly serve as a precedent for future court cases. If states can pick and choose which scientific studies are real, it'll be harder to stop anti-choice legislators from passing bills on everything from "fetal pain" to abstinence education. Let's call this what it is: a legal excuse to lie to women to back an ideological agenda.
"This ruling by the 8th Circuit Court represents the greatest intrusion by the government into the patient doctor relationship to date," said Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. Of course, not everyone is disappointed. "We are thrilled," said Leslee Unruh, the founder of a local crisis pregnancy center. "This has been a long time working from 2005. It's a long, long haul. We are so excited for the women of South Dakota that they have this victory."
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