Manian on South Dakota’s “Informed Consent” Laws and Thwarting Access to Legal Abortions

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Over at RH Reality Check (here), Maya Manian (University of San Francisco School of Law) writes about the Eighth Circuit’s decision upholding South Dakota’s law mandating mis-information to women seeking abortion care.  Professor Manian emphasizes how South Dakota’s law and others like it pervert the principles of informed consent that they claim to promote.  Here is an excerpt:

In an en banc opinion, the Eighth Circuit recently upheld South Dakota’s mandate that physicians inform women seeking abortion care that “an increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide” is a known risk of the abortion procedure. Responding to the Eighth Circuit’s holding, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley declared, “Today’s decision supports the Legislature’s goal of encouraging women seeking an abortion to make informed and voluntary decisions.” Although this statement invokes notions of patient autonomy, South Dakota’s abortion law actually turns on its head informed consent law’s respect for patient self-determination through the provision of accurate, relevant information. * * *

South Dakota is not alone in its misuse of traditional medical principles in regulating abortion care. * * * These abortion regulations belie a deep suspicion of women as medical (and moral) decision-makers. Their proponents claim to follow the general principle of protecting patients’ interests in informed decision-making, but they seek to apply that principle differently to women seeking abortion care. South Dakota’s legislation and other similar anti-choice “informed consent” laws aim not at preserving women’s autonomy, but at imposing the government’s normative views about what decisions women should make.  

Numerous anti-choice laws—like South Dakota’s—exploit informed consent doctrine to further goals antithetical to the notion of autonomy that these laws pretend to promote.  South Dakota’s disingenuous assertions about protecting women’s well-being by mandating mis-information mask its true purpose—to thwart access to abortion and discourage women from seeking abortion care.

Read the full post here.

-Bridget Crawford

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