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Federal judge blocks parts of South Dakota abortion law

A judge for the US District Court for the District of South Dakota [official website] on Thursday upheld an injunction against most of a controversial South Dakota abortion law [HB 1217 text] but allowed one section, requiring doctors to certify that a woman has not been "coerced" into making her decision, to go into effect. The most controversial parts of the law, including a provision requiring a 72-hour waiting period before obtaining the procedure, remain blocked. A challenge to the law was brought last year by the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota (ACLUSD) and Planned Parenthood Federation of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota [advocacy websites] claiming provisions in the law violate doctors' and patients' First Amendment [text] rights and create an undue burden on women seeking abortions. In addition to mandating a three-day waiting period for an abortion, the law requires that a woman seeking an abortion consult a "pregnancy help center" geared toward preventing abortions and be informed of "risk factors" of the abortion. Judge Karen Shreier issued an injunction [JURIST report] blocking the law last year, but in a ruling agreed on by both parties [AP report] Wednesday, she allowed one provision to go into effect. The remaining provisions of the law will remain blocked until the case is decided.

This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder]. Last week, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt appealed a ruling [JURIST report] by a district court judge that held that an abortion ultrasound bill is unconstitutional. Earlier this month, Louisiana Governor Bob Jindal signed a bill increasing abortion restrictions in the state [JURIST report]. In May, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs [JURIST report] that they "reasonably believe" might result in the termination of a pregnancy. Earlier that month, a judge for the District Court of Oklahoma County ruled [JURIST report] that a law restricting how doctors may use abortion-inducing drugs to treat patients was a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. In April, the Arizona House of Representatives approved a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks [JURIST report] into a pregnancy, with an exception carved out only for medical emergencies. In March, Utah passed a law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours [JURIST report] prior to obtaining the procedure.

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