Federal courts rule in favor of Missouri abortion restrictions

JEFFERSON CITY – A new ruling could threaten to shut down abortion services at one of the state’s two remaining abortion-providing health centers.

A decision from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued on Monday reverses a preliminary injunction blocking ambulatory surgical centers and admitting privilege requirements. In short, the decision clears the way for Missouri to enforce its state laws that require doctors performing abortions to be affiliated with the hospitals, while also requiring abortion clinics to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.

The court said it did not have enough information to determine how easily abortion clinics could obtain waivers from the licensing rules and whether those requirements posed an undue burden on the clinics.

According to Planned Parenthood, the decision could impact services “within weeks,” forcing the organization to suspend services in Columbia and limiting provider options to St. Louis, as well as threatening efforts to restart Kansas City services.

“The Supreme Court’s logic in Whole Woman’s Health applies to Missouri’s ideological restrictions, as well. These requirements do nothing to help Missouri women — and, in fact, actually hurt them,” said Dr. Brandon J. Hill, President and CEO of Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “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.”

“Missouri women continue to bear the burden of misguided government leaders, who substitute their own opinion for medical evidence,” said Mary Kogut, President and CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. “The Eighth Circuit’s ruling undermines decades of case law, including crystal clear Supreme Court precedent. 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.”