Federal court upholds Missouri abortion restrictions

Federal court upholds Missouri abortion restrictions

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed Missouri to enforce laws which restrict abortion, reports The Hill.

The court overturned a previous ruling which blocked the regulations. As a result, abortion doctors in Missouri must now maintain affiliations with local hospitals, and clinics must obtain ambulatory surgical center licenses.

In 2016, Planned Parenthood disputed the regulations in court, arguing that the restrictions served no purpose and unduly burdened women seeking abortions.

“Look no farther than Missouri to see what kind of harm courts can inflict on women’s rights and freedoms,” said Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president. “[J]udges on the 8th Circuit continue to re-write the books on abortion access. Today’s ruling threatens to eliminate abortion access at all but one health center in the state.”

Pro-life lobbyist Samuel Lee expressed a different view. Missouri’s abortion law does not jeopardize women’s access to healthcare, but in fact “protects the health and safety of women who are seeking abortions in Missouri without imposing an undue burden on them,” Lee explained.

Indeed, U.S. Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd found that a lower court improperly struck down Missouri’s regulations. That court did not consider the potential benefits of the state’s hospital affiliation requirement, Shepherd wrote in the majority opinion for the 8th Circuit.

Shepherd condemned the lower-court judge for relying on “slight implication and vague conjecture.” The lower court should instead have based its decision on “adequate information and correct application of the relevant standard.”

Shepherd’s ruling provides precedent for further restrictions on abortion. As the 8th Circuit Court’s decision demonstrates, abortion rights litigators may fail to mount a sound legal counterattack to abortion limits.

 

State Officials Halt Abortions at Kansas City Planned Parenthood Clinic

State Officials Halt Abortions at Kansas City Planned Parenthood Clinic

Missouri officials have forced a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Kansas City to stop performing abortions, reports local NPR affiliate KCUR. The clinic attempted to renew its operating license before August 10, but state health officials could not conduct a complete inspection of the facility.

Emily Wales, Planned Parenthood’s general counsel, believes political motivations prompted the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to shutter the clinic. “It’s hard for me to imagine how this isn’t for purposes of delay,” Wales stated.

A partial state inspection of the abortion clinic revealed that the facility failed to meet state guidelines regarding patient care. Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokeswoman Emily Miller protests that the clinic should be able to “go above and beyond” such guidelines. “That’s the best way to serve our patients,” Miller explained.

Missouri health officials, however, retain considerable control over abortion providers in the state. For example, medication abortion providers must contract with back-up ob-gyn doctors who enjoy admitting privileges at a hospital close to the abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit to block that regulation, but a federal judge dismissed the suit. Planned Parenthood had failed to show that Missouri women faced “a substantial burden” because of the regulation, the judged ruled.

Planned Parenthood’s midtown facility hopes to resume abortion procedures soon, and has hired a new abortion physician. However, the new provider lacks admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, so thanks to Missouri law, the clinic may not be able to perform abortions even if it secures a new license.

9/12/18 Update: Missouri officials now plan to renew the clinic’s license, but will require the facility to comply with additional regulations.