SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota has the legal authority to close the state’s only abortion clinic within days, Planned Parenthood lawyers argued in their latest request for an order to block the state from shutting down the facility.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota has the legal authority to close the state’s only abortion clinic within days, Planned Parenthood lawyers argued in their latest request for an order to block the state from shutting down the facility. State lawyers say the order is not needed. They contend there’s no immediate plans to close the Sioux Falls clinic and even if the state decided to do so, that administrative process would likely take weeks. The health department sent Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota a letter Aug. 7 that gave the organization 15 days to spell out how it will fix the wording of the disclosure form used at its South Dakota clinic to conform with a 2005 law. Saturday marks the 15th day. The clinic is still operating but could lose its license if it doesn’t conform with the law that requires doctors to tell women that abortion ends a human life. Planned Parenthood is challenging that law and has disagreed with the state over the wording required. Planned Parenthood requested a restraining order last week to prevent the health department from suspending or revoking its license. In a filing late Tuesday, the organization reiterated its request for the restraining order and said the state could still close the facility. "Nothing in the state’s opposition refutes that in less than a week’s time the state may proceed with an administrative action seeking revocation or suspension of Planned Parenthood’s abortion facility license for alleged failure to comply with the act," the attorneys wrote. "This constitutes irreparable harm warranting an emergency injunction," lawyers said. Planned Parenthood sued the state after the 2005 law was passed, and U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier temporarily prevented it from taking effect. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Schreier’s order in 2008, so the state began enforcing the law. Planned Parenthood wants Schreier to prevent the state from taking any further action until she decides whether to grant motions for summary judgment, which could end the court case, or proceed to trial. The South Dakota Legislature has passed a number of recent laws intended to reduce or eliminate abortions. A 2008 law requires doctors to ask women if they want to see sonograms of their fetuses, but women are not forced to look at the images. Also, in 2006 and 2008, voters rejected proposed laws that would have banned most abortions. ______ Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.