A state circuit court judge has rejected a legal effort by Planned Parenthood to nullify a new pro-life law adopted by the General Assembly. Jackson County Circuit Judge Margene Burnett denied a motion seeking a preliminary injunction which would have blocked enforcement of the new law, which took effect yesterday.The new section of the law challenged by the abortion industry requires that a doctor who will be performing an abortion on a woman must have an appointment with her 72 hours before the procedure. During that meeting, the abortionist must inform the woman of “the immediate and long-term medical risks to the woman associated with the proposed abortion method.”
The statute under legal fire from Planned Parenthood and their abortionists was one component of an omnibus pro-life bill approved by the Missouri Legislature during a special session in July. Governor Eric Greitens called the General Assembly into special session for the exclusive purpose of enacting new pro-life bills. It was the first time in the history of the state that an extraordinary session was devoted solely to deliberation on pro-life issues.Missouri has an extensive informed consent law which was developed in large part by the Missouri Family Policy Council and enacted by the State Legislature in 2010. It requires that women considering abortion receive specific information regarding the development and humanity of the unborn child, and the nature and risks of various abortion procedures.
The law also requires that abortion clinics provide women with the opportunity to view an ultrasound of their preborn child, and to hear the heartbeat of the child if it is audible. Abortion-minded women are provided a packet prepared by the state that also includes the names and contact information for alternatives to abortion centers and adoption agencies.Under the previous law, all this information had to be provided to the woman in person by a “qualified professional” 72 hours before the abortion procedure, in order to provide her time to evaluate the information and reflect on her decision. A “qualified professional” could include any physician, nurse, psychologist, counselor, or social worker.
The new law mandates that the doctor inducing the abortion must be the one to meet with the woman 72 hours before to discuss with her the physical risks she may experience and the psychological effects associated with abortion. Known physical risks include infection, severe hemorrhage, damage to the cervix, perforation of the uterus, and the increased likelihood of future premature births.Attorneys for Planned Parenthood contended that the requirement that the abortionist meet with the woman beforehand would be an unconstitutional inconvenience. Their lawsuit maintained that the requirement would create “extreme and medically unnecessary delays” for some women, and “insurmountable obstacles” for others.
These words are constitutionally significant since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states may not enact laws that create an “undue burden” on a woman’s access to abortion. The High Court has ruled that an “undue burden” is a “substantial obstacle” to a woman’s “right” to obtain an elective abortion.However, Judge Burnett did not buy Planned Parenthood’s legal rationale. She concluded that the new abortionist appointment process was “at best a moderate modification of the informed consent restraints already in place,” and “would not place a substantial obstacle in a woman’s decision to obtain an abortion.” Judge Burnett wrote that “this Court is unconvinced that [the new law] creates a substantially higher burden on a woman seeking an abortion than the already rigorous, current 72-hour waiting period provision that has been the law of Missouri since it was enacted in 2014.” Thus, Judge Burnett denied the request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the new law.
The litigation was filed by the Planned Parenthood affiliates headquartered in Kansas City and St. Louis, and by two notorious Missouri abortionists named David Eisenberg and Colleen McNicholas. Eisenberg and McNicholas are both associated with Barnes Hospital and the Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis, which have both been part of a longstanding alliance with Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis abortion clinic.The significance of Missouri’s new law to the abortion industry nationwide was illustrated by the names of the attorneys who participated in drafting the petition for a preliminary injunction. Attorneys for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation in New York were among those who framed the plaintiff’s arguments for the court.
Lawyers from Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office did an impressive job defending the new state statute during the hearing in Jackson County Circuit Court. Following Judge Burnett’s decision, Hawley stated that “we will continue to vigorously defend these sensible regulations that protect the health of women in Missouri.”