Temporary Injunction Requested Against Enforcing Missouri Abortion Law
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri would have to end abortion services at clinics in Columbia and Kansas City if a new Missouri law (SB 370) is allowed to take effect Thursday, PPKM CEO Peter Brownlie testified at a federal court hearing Thursday, the Kansas City Star reports (Morris, Kansas City Star, 8/23).
Thelaw will designate facilities performing second- or third-trimesterabortions or more than five first-trimester abortions each month as"ambulatory surgical centers." Clinics designated as ambulatorysurgical centers are subject to increased regulation from the state Department of Health and Senior Services.The law will require that hallways be at least six feet wide and doorsat least 44 inches wide. The clinics must also have separate male andfemale changing rooms for staff and a recovery room with space for aminimum of four beds with three feet of clearance around each bed. Thehealth department said the law requires that three clinics in the statebe licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.
PPKM on Mondayfiled a lawsuit that asks a federal court to block enforcement of thelaw. The suit alleges that the new regulations are unnecessary and arenot meant to improve safety, but to interfere with a woman'sconstitutional right to abortion. PPKM in the suit also is asking thatits Columbia and Kansas City clinics be exempt from the law becausethey were open before the law was passed (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report,8/21). Brownlie on Thursday said the high costs of upgrading theclinics to comply with the law would force them to stop providingabortion services (Kansas City Star, 8/23). U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith said he would rule on the request for a temporary injunction by Monday (Stafford, AP/Forbes, 8/23).
Smithnoted quotes from elected officials and press releases about the law,adding, "Let's be real. The purpose of the legislation was to makeabortions more difficult for women to obtain." State Assistant AttorneyGeneral Michael Pritchett replied, "This legislation was written toimprove the standards for women who are seeking abortions." Accordingto the Star, lawyers representing the statesaid the new regulations would not place a burden on women seekingabortion because abortions services are available in neighboring states(Kansas City Star, 8/23).
Missouri Health Director Hires Private Lawyers To Prosecute Case
Missouri Health Director Jane Drummond on Wednesday in a letter tostate Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) said she would be using a privatelaw firm rather than the attorney general's office to defend PPKM'schallenge to the law, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Drummond has hired two lawyers from the Kansas City-based conservative religious group Alliance Defense Fund to defend the case. The lawyers, Dale Schowengerdt and Kevin Theriot, are not charging the state for their work (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/23).
Drummondin the letter to Nixon said that she is using separate counsel becauseNixon has "been an outspoken supporter of abortion on demand and apolitical ally of Planned Parenthood." She also wrote, "I did notbelieve I could trust you to defend me and my department vigorously"(Lieb, AP/Springfield News-Leader,8/23). The Missouri Republican Party on Tuesday said that Nixon, who isrunning against Gov. Matt Blunt (R) in the 2008 gubernatorial race, hada conflict of interest in the case, citing the attorney general'sdecision in the 1990s to allow state funds to be used to hire a privatelawyer to defend a Missouri law against a challenge by PlannedParenthood. Scott Holste, a spokesperson for Nixon, said the case is"about law, not politics."
Schowengerdt said he and Theriot "have every intention to work with the attorney general and defend this law together" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch,8/23). Pritchett on Thursday said Nixon believes his office should leadthe prosecution of the case. The attorneys for Drummond appeared at thehearing Thursday and presented testimony from Elizabeth Shadigian, anob-gyn at the University of Michigan, about the risks of medical abortion drugs, the Star reports. According to the Star,PPKM's Kansas City clinic only provides drugs for medical abortions,while the Columbia clinic also provides first-trimester surgicalabortions (Kansas City Star, 8/23).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.