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Planned Parenthood Targets AUL Brief

Yesterday, the Clerk’s Office of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to act on a motion filed by Planned Parenthood to strike a brief filed by AUL in Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, a case challenging South Dakota’s informed consent requirements for abortion.

AUL’s brief was filed in December 2009 with the consent of Planned Parenthood and other parties. However, in early July 2010, in an apparent retaliatory move, Planned Parenthood moved to strike AUL’s brief because a separate brief supporting their politically-motivated (as opposed to medically-supported) contention that abortion carries no real psychological risks was rejected by the Court.

AUL’s brief detailed the links between abortion and increased risks of depression and suicide. Based on the evidence supporting these links, AUL urged the appellate court to overturn a lower court’s decision that abortion providers in South Dakota need not inform women of these risks.

When the brief was filed, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of AUL, observed, “Abortion is not a safe ‘choice’ for women. The evidence of abortion’s negative physical and psychological impact on women is substantial and growing. The increased risks of depression and suicide are but two of the well-documented risks that a woman must be told about when considering an abortion.”

In June 2005, Planned Parenthood filed suit against a 2004 South Dakota law requiring abortion providers to inform a woman that abortion increases the risk of suicide, that she has an existing relationship with her unborn child, and that abortion terminates “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Later, in August 2009, a federal district court invalidated the first two requirements, but permitted the requirement that a woman be told that abortion ends a human life to be enforced.

“Study after study has demonstrated that women who undergo abortions are more likely to suffer from depression and to attempt suicide,” explained AUL Staff Counsel Mailee Smith. “In challenging this law, Planned Parenthood has demonstrated – yet again – that it is not the defender of women’s health that it holds itself out to be. If it were, it would fight for laws to fully inform women of risks of abortion and not attempt to hide those risks.”

On the brief, AUL is representing several well-respected medical groups: the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA), the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), the Catholic Medical Association, Physicians for Life, and the National Association of Pro-life Nurses.

Rather than acting on the motion to strike, the Clerk’s Office referred the motion to the court panel that will hear the appeal in this case. Thus, AUL’s brief (which was accepted and docketed in December 2009) remains a part of the record in this case.