Planned Parenthood and ACLU Take Missouri to Court over Abortion Bans

July 30, 2019 5:45 pm

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ST. LOUIS — Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Missouri, along with law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, took the state of Missouri to court today to stop an unprecedented number of abortion bans from taking effect in the state. If the bans are allowed to go into effect, abortion would be outlawed at nearly every stage of pregnancy.

“Planned Parenthood will not cower to politicians who are trying to dismantle our access to safe, legal abortion — not in Missouri, and not anywhere else,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “These dangerous and illegal bans put people’s health and lives at risk. We are living in a terrifying world where politicians are doing all they can to overturn Roe v. Wade — no matter how many people’s lives they put at risk. This is not what people want: 77 percent of Americans support Roe v. Wade and access to abortion. Until politicians listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans who want abortion to remain safe, legal, and accessible, we will fight to ensure that every person can still access reproductive health care: no matter what.”

“Unless they are blocked by the court, these extreme laws would outright ban the vast majority of abortions in Missouri,” said Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “The impact would be devastating for Missourians seeking abortion care and would be felt most acutely by low-income patients and people of color. Politicians have no business dictating personal medical decisions, and we will not stand for it: the ACLU, along with our partners, is in this fight until these laws are blocked once and for all, and everyone who needs an abortion in Missouri can get one.”

In May, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed House Bill 126, one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws. The law also imposes a long list of medically unnecessary restrictions designed to shame people who choose to end their pregnancy. Missouri is one of 12 states to ban abortion just in the first half of this year.

“For years, anti-abortion politicians in the Missouri General Assembly have been pushing abortion care further and further out of reach,” said Tony Rothert, acting executive director and legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Until now, they’ve used medically unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions as a cudgel. H.B. 126, Missouri’s extreme and unconstitutional abortion ban, shows us just how far they’ll go. This dangerous bill criminalizes abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy. The ACLU will not stand by while politicians emboldened by President Trump’s anti-abortion agenda exploit our health and our lives for political gain. We demand that the courts block these unconstitutional restrictions that criminalize abortion and shame people seeking care.”

“Gov. Parson and anti-abortion politicians are on a mission to end access to safe, legal abortion in Missouri,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.“This law passed in May, just as Gov. Parson launched a failed attempt to end abortion in Missouri through the state’s health center licensing process. We are in the fight of our lives to protect abortion for 1.1 million Missouri women of reproductive age in our state. The attacks are relentless, but our commitment to our patients’ rights and freedoms is unwavering. We want every person to know that these abortion bans in our state are not in effect yet. Planned Parenthood’s doors are open. Abortion remains safe and legal. We will not back down from this fight. Gov. Parson, we’ll see you in court.”

Political attacks and targeted restrictions have left Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region as the last remaining health center that still provides abortion in the state. These restrictions — which blocked the only other health center in Missouri from providing abortions — include requiring doctors to perform invasive and medically unnecessary pelvic exams; a 72-hour mandatory delay for patients accessing abortion, which forces patients to make two trips to the health center; and demanding abortion providers hold local hospital admitting privileges.

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