Missouri abortion law upheld

A federal court panel overturns the restraining order, making the 24-hour wait effective immediately.
Friday, May 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:09 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — A federal appeals court panel on Thursday allowed a challenged Missouri law to take effect requiring a 24-hour wait for women seeking abortions.

The order by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis dissolved a temporary restraining order that had been in place against the law since Oct. 10.

“This is good news for the women and their unborn children of Missouri,” said Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri.

An attorney for Planned Parenthood affiliates, which had challenged the law, said the ruling could force delays for women scheduled to receive abortions Friday and Saturday.

“It could have substantial immediate effects, initially denying abortions planned and scheduled, and delaying and encumbering other abortions that soon would be performed,” said Arthur Benson, a Kansas City attorney for Planned Parenthood. He said Planned Parenthood would decide its next legal step today.

Missouri legislators enacted the law last September, with a bipartisan vote overriding the veto by Democratic Gov. Bob Holden.

U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright had placed the law on hold based on claims by Planned Parenthood that the law was so vague that abortion providers wouldn’t know if they were violating it and that prosecutors would enforce it arbitrarily.

Planned Parenthood affiliates have several options to try to again block the law’s enforcement. They could ask the appeals court to reconsider, take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, or ask a state judge to issue a restraining order or injunction against the law.

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