Pro-life laws head to State Supreme Court
By Allen Palmeri
November 29, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Two pro-life laws in Missouri that have been held up in federal and state courts by judges issuing injunctions are moving toward potential resolution in the Missouri Supreme Court.
A 2-1 decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Nov. 16 on Missouri’s law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions overruled a June 2004 order by U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright and temporarily affirmed the law, the Associated Press reported. The Missouri Supreme Court heard the case Nov. 8 and is expected to make public its ruling on the law late this year or early next year. Judge Wright is expected to issue a modified preliminary injunction that will favor Planned Parenthood affiliates which have challenged the law in both federal and state courts.
Also, Jackson County Circuit Judge Charles Atwell, who was appointed by the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, ruled that Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield, is constitutional. Atwell did decide to order an injunction against enforcement of the law pending an appeal that is expected to be filed before the state Supreme Court.
“I’m pleased that our view has been validated, that this is perfectly constitutional, but sorely disappointed that these judges continue to, by fiat, control the laws,” Loudon said. “One judge, as long as he is leaving his injunction in place, is replacing legislative authority with his own. That’s horribly offensive.”
Atwell reasoned that the “heart and soul” of the Senate Bill 1 ruling, which concerns Missouri minors seeking abortions to show their doctors written permission from a parent, legal guardian or judge before undergoing the procedure, is free speech. Loudon disagreed, stating that the heart and soul of the law is that it makes individuals civilly liable if they help transport minors across state lines to get abortions in violation of their parents’ rights. Another provision would limit “next friend,” or an adult who acts on behalf of a child in a parental consent court proceeding, to exclude anyone with a financial interest or potential gain in the girl’s decision to have an abortion.
“The heart and soul of this case is hearts and souls—unborn children and the minor girls who are being lured to make this decision without their parents involved,” Loudon said.
Gov. Matt Blunt, who signed the bill into law in September, remains hopeful that it will be proven to be constitutional as the seven state Supreme Court judges weigh its merits.
“I was confident when I signed this good pro-life law that it would withstand constitutional scrutiny and reduce the number of abortions in our state,” the governor said in a written statement. “I am pleased this ruling reaffirms the value Missourians and I place on human life and protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”
Loudon is delighted that a federal judge has been unable to block a third provision in the new law. That part of the law, which requires abortionists to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, has withstood a court challenge and is now in effect.
The 24-hour wait law was either in effect in Missouri in mid-November or was not in effect, depending on whom one is asking. Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office said it is law, but Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region disagreed, trusting as it has down through the years in the power of Judge Wright to issue effective injunctions.
“The preliminary injunction continues,” crowed Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, to the Associated Press.
Another pro-life law concerning partial birth abortion has been stalled for six years by Judge Wright.
Planned Parenthood is expending a lot of its time and resources in courtrooms in an ongoing effort to protect its business interests in Missouri. The organization operates the only two abortion clinics inside of Missouri’s borders—one in Columbia and one in St. Louis.
Loudon was asked what the Republican-controlled General Assembly might do in 2006 if Missouri Supreme Court judges issue a pair of pro-abortion rulings on the 24-hour wait law and Senate Bill 1.
“We control their budget,” the senator said.