Missouri Law Would Require Abortion Clinics To Upgrade Facilities

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Abortion Clinics

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith on Monday extended a temporary restraining order blocking a Missouri law (SB 370)that would designate facilities performing second- or third-trimesterabortions or more than five first-trimester abortions each month as"ambulatory surgical centers," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Smith at a hearing said he is extending the order to allow more time for evidence and testimony to be submitted (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9/11).

Ambulatory surgical centers are subject to increased regulation from the state Department of Health and Senior Services.The law would require hallways at the facilities to be at least sixfeet wide and doors at least 44 inches wide. The clinics must also haveseparate male and female changing rooms for staff and a recovery roomwith space for a minimum of four beds with three feet of clearancearound each bed. The health department has said the law requires thatthree clinics in the state be licensed.

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Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missourilast month filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the new regulationsare unnecessary and are not meant to improve safety, but rather tointerfere with a woman's constitutional right to abortion. Smith lastmonth issueda temporary restraining order blocking implementation of the law, whichwas scheduled to take effect Aug. 28. Last week, Smith ruled thatphysician Allen Palmer -- who operates the Women's Care Gynecologyclinic in Bridgeton, Mo. -- can join the lawsuit (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 9/10). Smith on Monday said he would rule on issuing a preliminary injunction on the law by Sept. 24.

Hearing Comments

Donna Harrison, a gynecologist and president-elect of the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists,at the hearing said the regulations were reasonable steps to protectwomen from complications of medical and surgical abortions, the Kansas City Star reports. Paul Blumenthal, a gynecologist and professor at Stanford University's School of Medicine, said the regulations are unnecessary (Morris, Kansas City Star,9/10). Palmer in court documents argued that the same restrictions donot apply to other private physicians who performed minor surgeries inthe offices. In addition, Palmer said he performed only early-termabortions at his office (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9/11).

Architectsat the hearing testified that the three clinics would incur substantialcosts to comply with the new law, but they said they did not estimatethe cost of renovations if the state were to waive some of therequirements. Dean Linneman, an administrator for DHSS, said it ispossible the department would permit waivers (Kansas City Star, 9/10).

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.

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