Government & Politics

Planned Parenthood and ACLU challenge Missouri abortion waiting period

Missouri branches of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed suit in state court Tuesday challenging one of the abortion restrictions Missouri lawmakers passed during a special session in July.
Missouri branches of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed suit in state court Tuesday challenging one of the abortion restrictions Missouri lawmakers passed during a special session in July. tljungblad@kcstar.com

Missouri branches of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Tuesday to stop new restrictions on abortion passed by state lawmakers during a special session in July.

Leaders of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri and the ACLU of Missouri homed in on a specific provision in the bill that requires women seeking an abortion to get information about the procedure 72 hours in advance from the same physician who will perform it.

“Let’s be clear: this law was written by politicians, not doctors, and is part of a broader effort to ban safe, legal abortion,” said Mary Kogut, the president and CEO of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood branch. “Already, we talk to patients who have to delay their procedures to travel, take off time from work, and figure out child care.”

The special session called by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens resulted in a bill with a wide range of new abortion restrictions that passed along party lines.

In addition to the waiting period, the bill also gives the state attorney general authority to prosecute abortion-related offenses; mandates annual, unannounced state inspections of facilities that provide abortions; and prevents local governments from regulating crisis pregnancy centers that offer abortion alternatives in any way that “adversely affects” them.

Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said the suit only challenges the requirement that the physician who performs the abortion be the same person who provides the information 72 hours in advance.

The Star left messages Tuesday afternoon seeking comment on the lawsuit from Greitens’ office and Missouri Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that supported the bill.

Missouri Sen. Bob Onder, a Republican who supported the bill, said it only takes Missouri’s informed consent laws back to where they were before 2010.

“I think it’s universal medical practice that we meet the surgeon that’s going to do the surgical procedure and we discuss the risks and the benefits of it and the alternatives to the procedure,” said Onder, a physician.

Onder said that’s not required by law for other procedures, but abortion requires special state oversight.

“So many times the abortion industry seeks to do things in a way that isn’t up to the standard of care elsewhere,” Onder said. “That’s why we need to legislate it.”

The lawsuit was filed in state court and is the latest in a string of Planned Parenthood legal challenges in Missouri.

Earlier this year, a federal judge halted a different Missouri law requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors who perform abortions. The law also mandated that clinics that provide abortions meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centers.

The state was also recently ordered to pay more than $156,000 to cover Planned Parenthood’s legal bills tied to a dispute over a clinic’s abortion license.

Planned Parenthood’s Great Plains branch, which operates in the Kansas City area, announced Tuesday it had received the license and started scheduling abortion services in Columbia.

Andy Marso: 816-234-4055, @andymarso

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