By Dave Andrusko
Pro-lifers in Missouri are on a roll in the courts, specifically as it relates to SB 5 which was passed this summer in a special session called by Gov. Eric Greitens.
The most recent victory came Friday afternoon when U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips denied Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order motion on what is referred to as the state’s “medication [chemical] abortion complication plan.”
That plan, as NRL News Today reported previously, requires when an abortion “provider” performs chemical abortions, they have a written agreement with an obstetrician-gynecologist who has admitting privileges at a hospital in case of emergencies.
“These are commonsense regulations designed to protect the health and safety of women,” Attorney General Josh Hawley said in a statement emailed to media outlets. “My office will continue to defend these regulations.”
In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood claimed, “The regulation singles out medication [chemical] abortion and its providers for different and more burdensome treatment than all other patients or health care providers regulated by the state, including countless medical procedures that are much riskier and for which complications are much more prevalent than medication abortion.”
The law was scheduled to go into effect Friday and without the TRO it meant that Planned Parenthood’s Columbia, Mo., clinic will not be doing chemically-induced abortions beginning today (which is what they indicated would happen if they didn’t get a TRO).
In her ruling Judge Phillips observed Planned Parenthood never submitted a complication plan solely focused on the Columbia clinic.
“While Phillips questioned the need for the rule, she wrote in her order that Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Great Plains had not presented any evidence that it could not comply with the rule,” according to Rudi Keller of the Columbia Tribune.
Phillips added (Keller wrote), “And in arguing the lawsuit to block the regulation, filed [last] Monday, there is no showing that it created a burden for women seeking medication abortions.”
“There is no evidence regarding the number of women who will be affected, or how they will be affected,” Phillips wrote. “In addition, as discussed above there is no current evidence regarding the burden of complying with the regulation. Thus, regardless of the regulation’s benefits, Plaintiffs lack of proof on this issue precludes a finding that they are likely to prevail on the merits.”
Molly Stawinoga of ABC 17 summarized the four factors the federal Judge Phillips considered “when making the decision whether to grant the Columbia clinic relief from the order or not,” beginning with whether the plaintiffs would succeed at trial.
Planned Parenthood’s case prevailed on none of them, Stawinoga wrote.
Two Planned Parenthood affiliates had previously lost when they asked Jackson County Circuit Court Judge S. Margene Burnett for an injunction on a different component of SB 5: that the abortionist himself meet with the woman three days before she undergoes the abortion, should she go forward. (For shorthand purposes, it was described as the “same-physician requirement.”)
Not only did she reject the request, Judge Burnett did not rule on the overall constitutionality of Senate Bill 5, as requested by Planned Parenthood. This meant that the entirety of SB 5 is now in effect.