As expected, a federal judge blocked Missouri regulations Wednesday that require abortion facilities to meet basic health and safety standards.
The ruling means four abortion facilities likely will open in the state soon.
U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs announced his plans to block the regulations several weeks ago, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a similar Texas law in 2016.
In his decision Wednesday, Sachs argued that the laws do not protect women’s safety; instead, they may have created health hazards by closing abortion clinics, causing women to travel longer distances to have abortions, KCUR Radio reports.
“Relief should be prompt, given the needs of women seeking abortions and the need for available clinics to serve their needs,” Sachs wrote.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said the regulations protected women’s health and safety. He said Sachs’ decision was wrong, and the state plans to appeal.
“Today a federal court struck down large portions of Missouri law that protect the health and safety of women who seek to obtain an abortion,” Hawley said. “Missouri has an obligation to do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of women undergoing medical procedures in state licensed medical facilities.”
The state regulations required abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergency situations, and abortion facilities to meet standards similar to other outpatient surgical facilities.
Several abortion facilities stopped doing abortions in Missouri, including a Planned Parenthood in Columbia in 2015, because they could not meet the health and safety standards. The abortion chain filed a lawsuit challenging the regulations late last year.
Currently, there is one abortion clinic in Missouri: a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis.
Now, four more could open. A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Great Plains told reporters that they plan to begin doing abortions again in Kansas City and Columbia, and start offering abortions in Springfield and Joplin.
The state regulations have helped to saved thousands of unborn babies’ lives since they passed in 2005. Many abortion facilities closed, dropping from seven in 2005 to two in 2014, because they could not or would not comply with the safety regulations. Abortion numbers also dropped steadily after the laws went into effect.
The Planned Parenthood in St. Louis currently is the only abortion facility in the state. It has developed a terrible reputation, sending at least 65 women to the hospital in ambulances since 2009, according to Operation Rescue. State inspection reports between 2009 and 2016 also showed more than 200 health and safety violations that endangered women’s health.
Reagan Barklage, a Students for Life of America director based in St. Louis, mentioned the St. Louis facility’s dismal record in her reaction to the judge’s decision Wednesday.
“Abortion advocates should be scrambling to make sure their facilities are sanitary and clean for patients instead of fighting the state to ensure access to abortion, a procedure unsafe and harmful for women and life-ending for their prenatal children,” Barklage said.
A Planned Parenthood in Columbia had to stop doing abortions in 2015 after its abortionist lost admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The abortion clinic’s last abortionist, Colleen McNicholas, had her hospital admitting privileges revoked by the University of Missouri Health Care in December 2015. State officials tried to take away the abortion clinic’s license after McNicholas lost the privileges, but a judge blocked the state’s actions, LifeNews reported.
The judge’s order gave the abortion facility more time to find a replacement for McNicholas, but its search was not successful; and its license to do abortions expired in 2016.
McNicholas also is an abortionist at the St. Louis abortion clinic and in Kansas. She is heavily involved in the pro-abortion movement, not only doing abortions but also setting up fundraising organizations to pay for them, lobbying state and federal legislators and hosting elaborate campaign events for pro-abortion candidates like Hillary Clinton, according to Marie Claire.
According to the women’s magazine, the St. Louis abortion facility charges a woman between $545 and $1,470 for an abortion. McNicholas reported doing about 31 abortions a day, which means that clinic is bringing in up to $45,570 per day on abortions alone.