A South Dakota appeals court ruled this week that doctors must tell women seeking abortions that they could be more prone to kill themselves if they have the procedure — even though the supposed link between abortion and suicide is based on arguably bogus evidence. The appeals court ruled 7-4 that conclusive proof of causation was not required, enraging abortion-rights activists who argue that the new rule puts an added burden on women seeking abortions — which would be unconstitutional according to Roe v. Wade. Has South Dakota gone too far? Here, a guide:
First off: What's the connection between abortion and suicide?
The anti-abortion groups championing the ruling cite two "widely circulated studies that found an 'increased' suicide risk" among women who had abortions, says Kay Steiger at The Raw Story. But there's a problem: The studies did not determine "that abortion caused the increased risk." In fact, the American Psychological Association called the link "misleading," stating that "the best scientific evidence indicates that the relative risk of mental health problems among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy is no greater if they have an elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver [the baby]."
What does the court say?
Judge Raymond Gruender wrote that "various studies found this correlation to hold," and added that "there is nothing in the record to suggest that abortion as a cause [of suicidal thoughts] has been ruled out with certainty. As a result, the disclosure of the observed correlation as an 'increased risk' is not unconstitutionally misleading or irrelevant."
Can abortion-rights groups fight the ruling?
No. "Tuesday's ruling was the final piece in the fight over the law's constitutionality," says Kristi Eaton at The Associated Press.
Will this stop women from getting abortions?
Time will tell. And remember, South Dakota "has spent the last few years making access to abortion the most taxing and violating experience ever," says Feministing. It was also the first state to have an informed consent law — which requires abortion providers to give women certain information before they undergo the procedure — and last year mandated the longest waiting period in the nation, 72 hours, and a meeting at an anti-abortion counseling center before a woman can get an abortion, says David Bailey at Reuters.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- Why Peter Capaldi has a bigger challenge than any Doctor Who in history
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- The secret to Gabrielle Hamilton's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
- A scientific fact-check of 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
Subscribe to the Week