Judge Blocks Missouri Right to Know Law
by Steven Ertelt
October 6, 2003
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — As expected, a federal judge on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction that blocks a pro-life Missouri law requiring abortion practitioners to give women considering abortion information about its risks and alternatives.
Judge Scott Wright’s restraining order will go into effect on Friday, one day before the new law was expected to take effect.
On Wednesday, Wright held a telephone conference hearing with attorneys from the state and Planned Parenthood abortion facilities who were challenging the law. Abortion advocates say the law, which is similar to a Pennsylvania law upheld by the Supreme Court, is unconstitutionally vague and broad.
Abortion practitioners who violate the law by failing to provide women with the information risk a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Planned Parenthood argues the criminal penalty section of the bill is too broad and says abortion practitioners could be fined and jailed for each abortion done in violation.
Pro-life groups were not surprised by Wright’s actions and has predicted it beforehand.
"We are confident that the courts will ultimately uphold Missouri’s 24-hour waiting period law," Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri told LifeNews.com.
Lee said the court battle could take as long as two or three years to resolve and he noted a 1999 law banning partial-birth abortions is still tied up in court.
An attorney for Planned Parenthood said the law is confusing to officials at the abortion business.
"The act is so extraordinarily vague that we are pleased that Planned Parenthood physicians are now protected from having to guess at the meaning of criminal statutes that could cost them dearly if they guessed wrong," Kansas City attorney Arthur Benson, who represents Planned Parenthood, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Attorney General Jay Nixon, who is pro-abortion, is defending the state. He has been criticized by pro-life groups and state legislators in the past for refusing to defend a pro-life law that denied taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood.
Wright has scheduled a January 27 hearing on the law and will decide whether to issue a permanent or preliminary injunction against the law.
The state legislature approved the law on September 11 following a veto by pro-abortion Gov Bob Holden (D).