Missouri Pro-Life Bill Requiring Abortion Risk Info Has Trial Delayed

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Missouri Pro-Life Bill Requiring Abortion Risk Info Has Trial Delayed

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
May 26, 2004

Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A hearing in the abortion industry’s lawsuit against a Missouri law requiring abortion practitioners to provide women information about abortion’s risks and alternatives has been delayed again.

U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright has given Planned Parenthood 45 days to file a new suit in state court, while upholding the temporary restraining order he issued in October. Wright also canceled the hearing scheduled for Tuesday in the federal suit.

Pro-life advocates have already been kept waiting on their waiting period legislation.

The Missouri legislature overrode Governor Bob Holden’s veto in September on the legislation, which also requires abortion practitioners to have at least $500,000 in malpractice insurance and that they provide patients with information about the risks of abortion 24 hours prior to performing one.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region both filed suit against the law in October. The suit came days before the law was scheduled to go into effect and Wright issued a temporary injunction.

A January 27 hearing was previously scheduled to hear the abortion advocates’ request for a permanent injunction against the law.

Wright granted Planned Parenthood’s request for the delay because the abortion business wanted more time to interview witnesses and gather information.

A representative of the Missouri Attorney General’s office filed a motion to dismiss the request for a delay, but that motion wasn’t granted. Wright overruled that motion.

The hearing was rescheduled for May 25, but the hearing has been delayed indefinitely.

Pro-abortion Attorney General Jay Nixon, who is defending the pro-life law for the state, is appealing Wright’s decision to keep the federal restraining order in place while the state lawsuit is being filed.

"It seems unusual that they would have chosen federal court initially and then want to go to state court. However, it’s not completely unheard of," Deputy Attorney General Karen Mitchell told the Associated Press.

"I think Planned Parenthood is just looking for any means to delay the final outcome of this case, which is to find the law is constitutional," said Sam Lee, a lobbyist for Campaign Life Missouri.

Pro-life advocates are hoping that this law will not suffer the fate of Missouri’s 1999 ban on partial-birth abortion. That law is still on hold in Wright’s court.

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.

Pam Manning, president of Missouri Right to Life, said the law was drafted to comply with Supreme Court requirements and it is constitutional.