A Jackson County judge in Kansas City has declined to block a portion of a new state law that requires abortion doctors to meet with patients three days (72 hours) before a procedure to explain risks.
Circuit Judge S. Margene Burnett has rejected a claim that the requirement poses an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.
The American Civil Liberties Union along with two Planned Parenthood affiliates argued that if the doctor couldn’t perform the abortion, patients would have to receive consultation with another physician and wait another three days.
Missouri already requires patients to receive consultation three days in advance of an abortion, but allows it to be administered by a qualified professional, not specifically the performing physician.
The judge has also rejected the claim that the new requirement, along with other provisions in Missouri’s abortion laws, place an undue burden on women seeking the procedure because there are so few abortion clinics in the state.
Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has issued a statement saying he is very pleased with the ruling and “will continue to vigorously defend these” regulations.
Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region President and CEO Mary M. Kogut says the new requirement doesn’t enhance safety and vows to continue fighting against the regulation.
“This law does not improve the safety and well-being of women in Missouri seeking abortion,” says Kogut. “We will continue to fight this and any bill that allows politicians to stand in the way of a woman’s ability to make personal medical decisions that are best for her health and well-being.”
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Interim President and CEO Aaron Samulcek says patients will face long delays and rigorous travel to obtain an abortion, and also pledges to fight against the regulation.
“The harsh reality of today’s court ruling is that this law will force some women to wait weeks for an abortion, travel hundreds of miles, or lose access altogether,” Samulcek says. “We will continue to be vigilant, proactive, and persistent in fighting for the ability of each woman to make personal decisions about pregnancy and when to become a parent.”
The new law, Senate Bill 5, was enacted during the summer after Republican Governor Eric Greitens called the Legislature into a special session for the issue of abortion. As passed and signed by Greitens, it was scheduled to take affect today, October 24th.
In addition to requiring the consultation with the performing physician three days ahead of the procedure, the statute includes several other provisions.
It requires clinics to submit to unannounced annual inspections, and have plans for possible complications arising from abortions. It calls for the tracking of fetal tissue taken during an abortion and prohibits employees from interfering with the work of emergency responders.
The law further offers whistle-blower protections for staff and allows the attorney general’s office to investigate any violations of Missouri abortion law in local jurisdictions.