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Planned Parenthood sues Missouri for requiring women be informed about abortion risks

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are pushing back against a law that tightens abortion regulations in Missouri, filing suit against the state this week to block a requirement that abortionists themselves inform mothers of the medical risks.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction blocking the law from going into effect March 24, the St. Louis Dispatch reported. The groups also want the law declared unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 5 requires that the abortion doctor must also be the one counseling the mother on the medical risks, potential abortion methods, and other medical factors. Previously, any “qualified professional” could discuss that information with the pregnant patient.

Planned Parenthood argued the requirement would result in “extreme delays up to three or four weeks for women to access abortion, and it will cut some women off from care entirely.” It also criticized the state’s 72-hour waiting period before an abortion.

“Abortion providers already give all prospective patients full information about their options,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “Missouri’s onerous restrictions override good medical practice by requiring that women make two separate appointments with at least a 72-hour delay in between. Now, Missouri legislators have piled on yet another restriction that provides no new information or benefits to women.”

Missouri’s GOP-majority legislature approved SB5 in July in a special session convened by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

Greitens called the session to pursue stricter safety abortion facility regulations and to ask the legislature to override the controversial St. Louis ordinance passed in February that would have made it difficult for pregnancy care centers to operate.

The St. Louis ordinance is considered problematic in part because it would allow pregnancy centers to be punished for refusing to hire abortion supporters.

The Planned Parenthood-ACLU lawsuit filed Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court said the new state law puts “extreme and unprecedented” requirements on women and “unduly restrict” their access to abortion.

The suit targets in particular the provision requiring abortion-performing doctors to also be the one to provide pre-procedure information to women seeking an abortion.

“The same-physician requirement will impose extreme burdens on physicians who provide abortion services in Missouri, some of whom will not be able to comply at all,” the suit stated. “The Act will impose significant delays, greater medical risks, and other serious harms on patients, some of whom will be unable to access abortion at all.”

That requirement is only one part of the law. SB5 amends a number of rules and enacts others.

“Interference with medical assistance” would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison or a $2,000 fine, for abortion staff to make special requests of emergency services, such as asking ambulances to approach their sites without sirens or lights to avoid drawing attention to the emergency occurring inside.

That aspect of the law, perhaps the first of its kind in the country, is especially pertinent, given the St. Louis Planned Parenthood’s horrific record for abortions resulting in medical emergencies.

According to Operation Rescue, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood is considered by many to be the most dangerous abortion facility in the U.S. due to the alarming number of ambulance transports required for its abortion clients.

Live Action concurred with Operation Rescue’s assessment in a report from earlier this year, saying that since 2009 the St. Louis Planned Parenthood has maintained an average rate of sending women to the hospital via ambulance at one every six weeks.

Other aspects of the new Missouri law include requiring annual inspections of abortion facilities and abortion providers to have an established plan for when complications arise from an abortion. The law also augments whistleblower protections and adds more regulations for how aborted fetal tissue is handled. And it preserves the right of pregnancy care centers and other alternatives to abortion providers to operate freely and maintain free speech.

It also upholds the right of a person not to be compelled to participate in abortion, and protects real estate brokers and property owners from being compelled to rent to sell to abortion facilities.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is among the named defendants in Planned Parenthood-ACLU suit. Deputy chief of staff Loree Anne Paradise said in a statement that Hawley’s office would “vigorously defend” the new law.

Paradise said the new law enacts “sensible regulations that protect the health of women in Missouri.”

Planned Parenthood says the rules do nothing to improve safety at abortion facilities, and rather are a backdoor effort to block abortion access.

The nation’s largest abortion provider has been fighting to expand its abortion enterprise in Missouri, with the legal battle centering upon abortion facility regulations and abortion doctors’ hospital admitting privileges.

In April, a U.S. district judge issued a preliminary injunction against Missouri's abortion rules, blocking the state from enforcing them. The judge said some of Missouri’s existing abortion laws are similar to Texas laws that the Supreme Court struck down last year.

Hawley had asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the preliminary injunction last month, which the court later did.

However, the 8th Circuit ruled in the abortion giant’s favor last week, allowing Planned Parenthood to continue seeking licensing to conduct abortions in Columbia, Springfield and Joplin.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains announced Tuesday that it will start scheduling abortions at its Columbia site.

In another legal challenge to Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period for an abortion, a case brought by a female member of the Satanic Temple identified as “Mary Doe” has advanced to the Missouri Supreme Court. A hearing date is not yet set.

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