Pre-Abortion Screening Law to Take Effect in South Dakota

Elliot Institute News Release

For Immediate Release

Pre-Abortion Screening Law
Set to Take Effect in South Dakota

Springfield, IL (June 29, 2012) — A federal court has dissolved an
injunction against enforcement of a new law in South Dakota that
requires abortion doctors to screen women for coercion and other
factors that increase the risk of psychological complications after

Beginning July 1, physicians must screen women for coercion and other
risk factors for psychological complications before scheduling an

The law contains elements of the Elliot Institute’s model legislation,
which was the first in the nation to create civil liability for
abortionists who fail to screen women for coercion and other risk

“This is an important step forward in protecting the rights of women
who are facing unwanted, unsafe, and unnecessary abortions,” said Dr.
David Reardon, a leading researcher in the field of abortion
complications and director of the Elliot Institute.

While in every other area of medicine doctors routinely screen for
risk factors, abortion doctors have dropped this practice, Reardon

“Abortion providers have excused themselves from the normal practice
of screening expected everywhere else in medicine by embracing a
radical view of patient autonomy,” he said. “Therefore, they have
ignored screening for risk factors on the grounds that questioning
regarding risk factors is intrusive, unnecessary, and inserts the
physician into an abortion decision which belongs exclusively to the

In a 2003 law review article on the lack of appropriate pre-abortion
screening, Reardon was the first to advocate for statutes, like the
one passed in South Dakota, which would establish a duty to screen for
risk factors for psychological complications. Among dozens of risk
factors that have been well-established in the medical literature and
were identified in the review, one of the most significant risk
factors was being pressured or coerced to undergo an abortion to
please other people, such as one’s parents or partner.

The problem of women being pressured into unwanted abortions is far
more common than is generally realized. One study of women who had
abortions found that 64 percent of American respondents reported being
pressured to abort by someone else.

Reardon said that in most of these cases, women end up undergoing
unwanted abortions that violate their own moral beliefs or maternal
desires. Women who abort in such circumstances face significantly
higher rates of of subsequent substance abuse, depression, sleep
disorders, suicide, and other negative psychological reactions.

Working with attorneys and other advocates for women hurt by
abortions, Reardon and the  Stop Forced Abortions Alliance drafted
model legislation that would give women the right to redress when
doctors fail to screen for known risk factors associated with abortion
complications and properly inform women of their unique risk profiles.

Portions of the “Prevention of Coerced and Unsafe Abortions Act” were
passed in Nebraska in 2010 and in South Dakota in 2011. Both statutes
were challenged in federal courts by Planned Parenthood.

In Nebraska, the attorney general agreed to a court stipulation to not
engage in any state enforcement of the statute, but it remains in
effect for private enforcement by individual women seeking damages
under the statute.

In South Dakota, an injunction stopping the law from being enforced
was issued in 2011. It was dissolved by the federal court ruling this
week, following an amendment to the statute passed by the legislature
in 2012.

“This federal court ruling confirms once again that it is appropriate
and necessary to allow women to hold abortionists accountable for
negligent pre-abortion screening and counseling,” Reardon said. “It is
our hope that the other 48 states will quickly move to protect women
from unwanted, unsafe, and unnecessary abortions by passing their own
versions of our model bill.”


The Elliot Institute is dedicated to conducting original research on
the impact of abortion on women, raising awareness that most abortions
are unwanted or coerced, and exposing the risks of abortion to all
involved. The Stop Forced Abortions Alliance is a project of the
Elliot Institute.

Link to this article.


Elliot Institute, PO Box 7348, Springfield, IL 62791, United States

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