Missouri appeal on partial-birth abortion ban proceeds
By Allen Palmeri
October 12, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – Attorney General Jay Nixon, a Democrat who is pro-choice, has filed an appeal of Missouri’s law banning partial-birth abortion to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Proponents of abortion have succeeded in delaying enforcement of the law through numerous court proceedings since 1999. The latest legal maneuver came July 9 when U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright, in granting summary judgment to a Planned Parenthood branch in St. Louis, ruled that the Missouri law failed to meet requirements established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.
In a parallel case before the 8th Circuit, a Justice Department spokesman said Sept. 28 it would appeal a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf of Nebraska on the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act based on two points. First, the department said it would challenge Kopf’s ruling that the ban contains no exception for the health of the woman. Second, the department disagrees with Kopf’s ruling that the ban poses an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.
Wright, in July, reasoned along the same line as the first point of Kopf’s ruling.
When asked by The Pathway for details about how the Missouri Attorney General’s appeal might line up with the Justice Department’s appeal in the Nebraska case, Scott Holste, a spokesman for Nixon, provided a statement summarizing the Attorney General’s position on the matter.
“I have been and remain personally opposed to partial birth abortion. I supported the legislation banning partial birth abortion in Missouri, and have vigorously defended this statute and will continue to do so through the entirety of the inevitable journey through the state and federal courts.”
Chris Byrd, the Republican challenger to Nixon in the Nov. 2 general election, said in a statement released by his campaign that Nixon has been dragging his feet as he goes about defending a law put in place when the General Assembly overrode a veto at that time by Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan.
“It’s a travesty that Missouri’s law outlawing partial-birth abortion has languished this long and still lacks any finality,” Byrd said. “One of my first priorities upon election will be to help expedite this case through the legal system in a timely fashion. In addition, Missourians can rest assured that their next Attorney General will be actively engaged in the defense of that law.”
Holste said Nixon is “in the process” of submitting briefs to the 8th Circuit.