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Is South Dakota wrong to tell women that abortion could lead to suicide?
An appeals court inspires fury by ruling that women seeking abortions must be warned of an increased risk of suicide — despite shaky evidence of that link
 
Anti-abortion protesters: Nurses in South Dakota must now tell women seeking abortions that the procedure can increase their risk of suicide.
Anti-abortion protesters: Nurses in South Dakota must now tell women seeking abortions that the procedure can increase their risk of suicide.
Geray Sweeney/CORBIS

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.

Sources: The Associated Press, FeministingThe Raw Story, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal

 

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