The latest development in a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s regulations of surgical abortions could soon halt abortion services at Planned Parenthood’s Columbia location.
A three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit vacated a preliminary injunction that allowed Planned Parenthood to perform abortions while the organization fights regulations in court, according to a news release from Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri.
Monday’s ruling to vacate the preliminary injunction could force Planned Parenthood to suspend abortion services in Columbia and limit access for patients seeking abortions in Missouri to a single provider in St. Louis, according to the release. This also threatens efforts to restart services in Kansas City and risks further delay to plans to expand access to abortions in Springfield and Joplin, according to the release.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will immediately begin enforcing the regulations for abortion facilities, according to a separate news release sent Monday by the department.
The preliminary injunction was issued April 2017 by the U.S. Western District Court of Missouri, according to previous Missourian reporting. In October, the circuit court denied the state’s pending motion to stay the lawsuit, according online court records. This allowed the preliminary injunction to remain in place while the circuit court considered the appeal.
The regulations Planned Parenthood is challenging require clinics that provide abortions to be ambulatory surgical centers and also require the doctors who perform the abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
“These requirements do nothing to help Missouri women — and, in fact, actually hurt them,” said Dr. Brandon Hill, president and CEO of Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, in a news release. “If these laws are allowed to take effect, women will now have to travel farther, wait longer, and use more of their own resources to access the health care they need most — if they can get care at all.”
Hill also said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt applies to Missouri’s regulations as well.
In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that it was unconstitutional for the state of Texas to place restrictions on the delivery of abortion services that create an undue burden for women seeking those procedures.
“The Eighth Circuit’s ruling undermines decades of case law, including crystal clear Supreme Court precedent,” said Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, in the news release. “We will continue to challenge these restrictions and fight for our patients’ right to access the full range of sexual and reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion.”
Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said in the department’s news release that the court noted that “the good faith of state officers and the validity of their actions are presumed.”
“As the director of DHSS, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist for 30 years and a defendant in the case, my commitment and that of the department is to act in good faith to follow the law and protect the health and safety of all women in Missouri, including those seeking abortions,” he said.
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