Argument to Invert Traditional Medical Standards Rejected
Springfield, IL (July 26, 2012) — A U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that abortion providers can be required to disclose risks associated with abortion, even if the attending doctor believes the associated risk is only incidental to the abortion and not a direct result of it.
At issue was a South Dakota statute requiring abortionists to disclose to patients that women who have abortions are “at increased risk for suicide ideation and suicide.” This provision was challenged by Planned Parenthood, which argued that such a disclosure was untrue and misleading in the absence of irrefutable evidence that abortion is the direct cause of suicidal behavior.
Planned Parenthood admitted that numerous studies show a statistical association between abortion and suicide. For example, an eight-year study of the entire population of women in Finland found that the risk of suicide among women who aborted was six times higher in the following year than that of women who had given birth and three times higher than that of women who had not been pregnant.
But Planned Parenthood’s experts argued that such statistical associations did not prove a direct causal link between abortion and suicide. They argued that the higher rate of suicides might be due to prior psychological issues that predispose women who were already suicidal to have more abortions. If that were true, the observed statistical association would be incidental, not causal.
In an en banc ruling — a ruling from the entire bench instead of a panel of judges — the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Planned Parenthood’s argument in an 8-4 decision, observing that “[i]t is a typical medical practice to inform patients of statistically significant risks that have been associated with a procedure through medical research, even if causation has not been proved definitively.”
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