A federal judge has turned back the latest legal challenge by Planned Parenthood to a new pro-life law enacted by the Missouri Legislature this past summer. U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips has denied a request for a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of a section of the new law governing chemical, or drug-induced abortions.The Missouri General Assembly adopted a sweeping pro-life measure in July during a special session called by Governor Eric Greitens. The Governor’s call was dedicated exclusively to a variety of pro-life objectives which included strengthened health and safety regulations for abortion clinics.
The provision challenged by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Kansas City and St. Louis establishes medical safety standards for abortions induced by the drug regimen known as RU-486. That regimen involves the administration of two drugs in sequence–mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex) causes the breakdown of the endometrial lining of the uterus of a pregnant woman, and as a result the death of an attached developing human embryo or fetus. Misoprostol (also known as Cytotec) is then taken to induce contractions which expel the dead fetus from the uterus. The Food and Drug Administration recently expanded the authorized use of the RU-486 drugs for up to 70 days after a woman’s last menstrual period.
The RU-486 abortion procedure is often referred to as a “do-it-yourself abortion” because the second drug is usually taken by a woman at home, where she then expels the expired preborn child into a toilet and flushes the remains down the drain. However, this arrangement places a woman’s health at significant risk because of the complications created by the combination of these two drugs.It is well documented that RU-486 can cause excessive hemorraghing which may persist for an extended period of time and require a blood tranfusion. In numerous cases a woman may experience an “incomplete abortion”, where some of the remains of the unborn child are not eliminated from the uterus. A woman may also suffer infections leading to sepsis, which can be lethal.
The bill adopted by the Legislature in July requires that any physician who prescribes the RU-486 cocktail of chemical drugs must develop a plan for treating medical complications which is then approved by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). The complication plan must provide details as to how a woman will have access to safe and reliable care should health risks occur. In accordance with the legislation, Missouri DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams issued emergency regulations requiring that an obstetrician/gynecologist who is board certified be available twenty four hours a day every day to treat complications related to the administration of abortion drugs. The emergency rules further stated that the facility or the physician must have a written contract with that ob/gyn or group of ob/gyns.
Attorneys for Planned Parenthood argued that the new law and regulations will make drug-induced abortions inaccessible or difficult to obtain at new abortion clinics being opened in Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, and Joplin. Planned Parenthood lawyers contend that the new health and safety requirements are unnecessary and unconstitutional, because they place a substantial obstacle in the path of woman seeking chemical abortions.While Judge Phillips said she “harbored serious doubts” that the complication plan requirements “produce any benefits to women or the State,” she nonetheless concluded that Planned Parenthood had not “presented sufficient evidence that the regulations imposed an undue burden on women’s ability to obtain an abortion.” As a result, Judge Phillips declined to enjoin enforcement of the law prior to a formal trial on the constitutionality of the legislation.
Studies have shown that drug-induced abortions are four times as likely as surgical abortions to result in adverse events for a pregnant woman. The latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration statistics, which are six years old, show that 14 women in the U.S. have died from the use of RU-486, and that more than 2,200 women have suffered serious adverse effects such as severe infections, blood transfusions, and hospitalizations. The severe infections which were reported to the FDA resulted in endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and pelvic infections with sepsis.More and more women are choosing to opt for drug-induced abortions “at home” instead of first-trimester surgical abortions at an abortion facility. It is estimated that administration of RU-486 now comprises nearly a quarter of the approximately 1 million abortions induced each year.
Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue, has said that the FDA’s extension of the gestational limit for use of RU-486 sharply increases the health risks to abortion-minded women. “The abortion pill is a huge cash cow for the abortion cartel, and the process of using Mifeprex and Cytotec is long, painful, bloody, and unpredictable for women and deadly for preborn children.””Extending the recommended gestational limit from 49 to 70 days only ensures that the risk of incomplete abortion will be multiplied, as will the number of women visiting emergency rooms around the country suffering from partial or failed abortions,” Newman added.Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains recently obtained licenses from the state, ordered by another federal judge, to provide surgical and chemical abortions at its Columbia facility, and chemical abortions only at the Brous Center in Kansas City. Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region is still seeking licensure to offer chemical abortions at its clinics in Springfield and Joplin.
A state judge last month turned aside a legal challenge by the two Planned Parenthood affiliates to another section of Missouri’s new pro-life law. That provision requires that an abortionist meet with a woman 72 hours before an abortion is performed to discuss the risks of the procedure. Jackson County Circuit Judge Margene Burnett declined a request to issue a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of that requirement.