8th Circuit Court

En Banc Court Mulls Abortion Law

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Anti-abortion groups are pursuing a strategy that focuses on the consequences for women who undergo abortion.

An example is the law passed by South Dakota, Adam Liptak writes in his Sidebar column for the New York Times (sub. req.). The measure requires doctors to tell women considering abortion that the procedure “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

Testifying in favor of the bill, Carol Kling said she would not have had an abortion in 1982 if she had understood “that this fetus was a human being.” A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction barring the law from taking effect because it requires physicians to espouse state views.

Liptak concludes that anti-abortion focus appears to resonate with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court upholding so-called partial birth abortions.

“While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon,” he wrote, “it seems unexceptional to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.”

Judging by oral arguments, the anti-abortion view may also hold sway with the en banc 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Liptak says. The St. Louis-based appeals court is considering an appeal of the injunction against the South Dakota law.

The ABA Journal wrote about strategies in the battles over abortion in “Following the Beat of the Ban.”

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