Federal Judge preliminary enjoins Missouri abortion law

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs

U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs

U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs has granted a preliminary injunction that blocks a Missouri law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and abortion clinics to meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers.

The lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood last November. Judge Sachs said he was giving the legislature time to change the law. Pro-lifers are hoping Attorney General Josh Hawley appeals the decision.

Missouri currently has one abortion clinic–Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, which performs both surgical and chemical abortions. According to the Associated Press, Planned Parenthood said “that its health centers in Kansas City, Columbia, Joplin, Springfield would provide abortions if the restrictions were scrapped.”

As NRL News Today has written on many occasions, PPFA’s clinic in Columbia stopped performing chemical abortions after a mind-numbing series of court cases. In brief, prior to a legislative investigation. abortionist Colleen McNicholas had what is known as “refer and follow” privileges with the University of Missouri Health Care. Under such an arrangement, the abortionist can refer a patient to the hospital’s doctors for follow up care, typically in an emergency.However once the University of Missouri Health Care System’s medical system voted to discontinue this privilege (enjoyed by McNicholas and another physician), it meant the Columbia abortion clinic had to stop performing chemical abortions.

The Columbia, Missouri clinic won a series of court cases but when its license expired, they had not secured an abortionist with privileges at a nearby hospital and had to stop performing chemical abortions.

The argument between Melissa Cohen, the Planned Parenthood attorney, and John Sauer, from the Attorney General’s office, revolved around whether last year’s Supreme Court decision applied to the law in Missouri.

Cohen said Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt “does bind this court,” according to the AP’s Jim Suhr, while

John Sauer countered for the state that Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit seeks a “regulatory blackout” that could endanger women by essentially enabling unsavory abortion providers to crop up.

Sauer also argued that the Texas case decided last year and the Missouri one differ, insisting that the Texas filings were less complete and persuasive than those now before Sachs.

“The breadth of relief that is sought in this case is completely inappropriate,” Sauer said.

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