For any women who would seek an abortion in Missouri on Friday, the new law saying they have to wait 72-hours to get it is essentially in effect now.
That law, which was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon but the veto was overturned by the legislature, actually takes effect on Friday, but president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region Paula Gianino explains its potential impact before then.
“Any woman getting a procedure on Friday will have had to have had her informed consent 72-hours prior,” says Gianino, meaning she would have to have been consulted about the procedure by now.
“It is 72 hours, not just calendar days,” says Gianino. “That requires a high level of coordination on our part with patients’ schedules to get them in for their informed consent visit as early as possible.”
Planned Parenthood has said it will not at this time challenge that new law in court. Gianino says her organization and the American Civil Liberties Union studied the law for months.
“We’re all in agreement that at this time, unfortunately, we do not have a route for success if we went to either state or federal court,” says Gianino. “It’s really because courts in other jurisdictions have upheld waiting period laws and as a result, we don’t feel as though we would be successful.”
That decision was well-received by Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life.
“Throughout the legislative session as this bill was advancing, they kept saying it was unconstitutional, so I find it very interesting that now they don’t think that they have a case,” says Fichter.
Gianino says a challenge could still come.
“We’re going to continue to look at any individual particular patient situation that might emerge that might allow us to bring a case for a particular patient,” says Gianino.
In the meantime, Planned Parenthood is focused on working within that law.
“Our staff has been busy for months doing everything that we can to try to make this new law less burdensome for the women who rely on us for their care,” says Gianino. “We’re going to continue to expand our team of professionals who do informed consent consultation so that women can go to any of our health centers and receive that service so that they do not have to travel here to St. Louis to receive that service.”
The only clinic offering abortions in Missouri is in St. Louis.