JEFFERSON CITY – An effort to make women safer and minimize abortions in Missouri has been struck down by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs granted April 19 a preliminary injunction invalidating requirements for the state’s abortion clinics to meet standards for surgical centers and for their doctors to have hospital privileges.
The regulations had meant that Planned Parenthood clinics – except for the one in St. Louis – could not perform abortions.
As a result of the injunction, Planned Parenthood said the organization would begin the process of returning abortion services at its offices in Columbia and Kansas City and would begin performing them in Joplin and Springfield.
The state laws are at the center of an ongoing legal challenge brought by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri. They and pro-abortion activists argue that the restrictions in Missouri have become so stringent that few providers can meet them.
Pro-life supporters argue that the restrictions challenged in this lawsuit protect the health of women by ensuring that abortions are performed in safe, clean facilities.
But though a preliminary injunction has been the issue, the legal battle may not end there.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley criticized the decision.
“This decision was wrong,” he said. “I will appeal. Missouri has an obligation to do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of women undergoing medical procedures in state-licensed medical facilities.”
Susan Klein, the legistlative liaison for Missouri Right to Life, called the ruling disappointing and dangerous.
“Judge Sachs is giving a dangerous stamp of approval to Planned Parenthood’s history of having rusty equipment, dirty tables, expired drugs and untrained personnel offering services,” she said.
“These infractions are in public inspection reports of the Planned Parenthood in St Louis. This same Planned Parenthood has had at least 69 emergency ambulance calls since 2009.”
“We also look to our legislators and Governor Greitens for help in addressing this egregious ruling,” she continued. “The state has a vested interest in protecting our citizens who will be harmed by this ruling. Missouri laws addressed by Judge Sachs have been in effect in Missouri since 2005.