JEFFERSON CITY – Lawmakers aren’t to blame for Planned Parenthood’s most recent expansion in Missouri, according to some of the state’s pro-life advocates. Instead, the abortion industry is making a comeback in the state with the help of judicial decisions – and the Satanic Temple.
Planned Parenthood’s legal fight to gain ground in Missouri took a turn in the abortion industry’s favor because of an order released, Oct. 2, by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court battle centers around state regulations that, according to Planned Parenthood, are similar to Texas laws that the U.S. Supreme Court ousted last year.
According to Missouri’s regulations, physicians at abortion clinics must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and abortion clinics must have high enough medical standards to be classified as ambulatory surgical centers. Pro-life leaders in Missouri claim that these regulations protect the women who visit abortion clinics.
But in April, a U.S. district judge issued a preliminary injunction against these regulations, citing the Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling. Last month, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the preliminary injunction, but reversed its decision on Oct. 2.
As a result of the court’s decision, Planned Parenthood may reopen abortion clinics in Springfield, Joplin and Columbia.
According to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, however, the state still opposes the court’s decision.
“I am extremely disappointed in the 8th Circuit’s decision,” Hawley said in a statement released by his office. “My office will continue to fight for common sense regulations that protect the health and well-being of Missouri women.”
Missouri Right to Life Executive Director Susan Klein said pro-lifers in the state shouldn’t blame Missouri’s lawmakers for this lost ground. The fault lies with judges appointed by pro-abortion officials decades ago, she said.
On a happier note, Klein added that Missouri Senate Bill 5, which was passed in the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Eric Greitens earlier this year, may remedy the situation raised by the court injunction. According to the bill, abortion clinics within the state are under the purview of—and are regulated by—the Department of Health and Senior Services, which is currently directed by Randall W. Williams, a pro-life obstetrician and gynecologist.
“We will win in the end,” Klein said. “We will see greater success if we stay vigilant.”
Meanwhile, a Springfield Satanist arguing that Missouri’s pro-life legislation violates her religious beliefs may soon have the opportunity to take her case before the Missouri Supreme Court.
“Mary Doe,” a member of the Satanic Temple, takes issue with a 2014 law requiring that abortionists wait 72 hours after an initial consultation before giving a woman an abortion. The law also ensures that a woman understands her decision to abort by providing a booklet and an opportunity to listen to her baby’s heartbeat.
James MacNaughton, who represents Doe, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that “the concept of saying that human life begins at conception is a religious belief.”
Explaining why Doe’s case was sent directly to the Missouri Supreme Court, the Missouri appeals court noted that the state and U.S. Supreme Courts have never considered whether pro-life laws like those in Missouri “violate the religion clause rights of pregnant women.”