Legal victory paves the way for three abortion clinics

By Michael Layer 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Four judges in the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit denied a request Monday afternoon that would have prevented Planned Parenthood from opening health clinics in Springfield, Joplin, and Columbia. The court’s decision affirms an earlier injunction which allows the facilities to pursue licenses after an inspection. Attorney General Josh Hawley attempted to suspend the injunction by appealing for an emergency stay on September 27.

“I am extremely disappointed in the 8th Circuit’s decision,” Hawley said Tuesday morning. “My Office will continue to fight for common sense regulations that protect the health and well-being of Missouri women.”

The legal battle follows SB 5, a bill signed into law on July 26 in a special session called by Governor Eric Greitens. At the time, he wanted to protect “pregnancy resource centers and proposals for common sense health and safety standards in abortion clinics.” The bill sought to give the Attorney General jurisdiction over providers throughout the state, repeal St. Louis Ordinance 70459, require abortion providers to have admitting privileges, and meet ambulatory surgical center (ASC) requirements.

A decision praised at the time by Missouri Right to Life President Steve Rupp, “The provisions of SB 5 will serve to give more oversight and regulation on any abortion clinic in Missouri.”

On the other hand, Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) CEO, Aaron Samulcek felt that these intense regulations do not work as intended and instead hinder Planned Parenthood and their patients. 

“We all want to protect patient safety,” he said.  “And ASC requirements do the opposite.”

ASC requirements for abortion providers have been recently scrutinized by America’s courts. Under the law, ASC requirements require doctors to be licensed surgeons in order to perform certain medical procedures at an ASC certified site. The Legislature in Texas attempted mandate abortion facilities to be ASCs, but was struck down by the Supreme Court in November 2016, establishing a legal president. Judge Sachs issued his injunction on September 12 specifically because of the Texas precedent and determined that Missouri’s regulations on abortion providers were “unconstitutional and medically unnecessary.”

“Today’s win is a victory for Missouri women who rely on Planned Parenthood for quality, compassionate care, including abortion. The last thing that should stand in the way of their access to sexual and reproductive health care is an extreme politician who doesn’t know the first thing about health care delivery. We look forward to serving Missourians in more locations across the state and expanding access to safe, legal abortion,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains Interim President and CEO, Aaron Samulcek said.

“The court today denied a stay that would have blocked access to safe, legal abortion, as required by the Supreme Court precedent in Whole Woman’s Health,” Mary M. Kogut, president and CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said. “By allowing us to continue expanding health care access, this lets us ensure women in our state can get the care they need closer to their own community. We will continue working with the state to obtain licenses in Springfield and Joplin so we can provide care to patients in southwest Missouri as soon as possible.”

This story originally appeared on The Missouri Times.

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