Planned Parenthood Worries SD Clinic May Shut Down
August 20, 2009 - 3:21 PMPlanned Parenthood is raising red flags that the state could close the only abortion clinic in South Dakota in a matter of days, according to the latest filing in a court battle over a 2005 law that requires doctors to tell women an abortion ends a human life.
The clinic in Sioux Falls could lose its license if it doesn't conform with the law. State attorneys say there's no immediate plans to close the facility and even if South Dakota decides to shut it down, that administrative process likely would take weeks.
The health department on Aug. 7 sent Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota a letter giving it 15 days to spell out how it will fix the wording of the disclosure form used at its South Dakota clinic to conform with the 2005 law. Saturday marks the 15th day.
Planned Parenthood is challenging the law and disagrees with the state over the wording required.
The clinic is still operating and last week its attorneys asked for a restraining order to prevent the health department from suspending or revoking its license. In a filing late Tuesday, the organization reiterated its request for the restraining order and said the state still could close the facility.
"Nothing in the state's opposition refutes that in less than a week's time the state may proceed with an administrative action seeking revocation or suspension of Planned Parenthood's abortion facility license for alleged failure to comply with the act," the attorneys wrote.
"This constitutes irreparable harm warranting an emergency injunction," lawyers said.
Planned Parenthood sued the state after the 2005 law was passed, and U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier temporarily prevented it from taking effect. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Schreier's order in 2008, so the state began enforcing the law.
Planned Parenthood wants Schreier to prevent the state from taking any further action until she decides whether to grant motions for summary judgment, which could end the court case, or proceed to trial.
The South Dakota Legislature has passed a number of recent laws intended to reduce or eliminate abortions.
A 2008 law requires doctors to ask women if they want to see sonograms of their fetuses, but women are not forced to look at the images. Also, in 2006 and 2008 voters rejected proposed laws that would have banned most abortions.
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