by Steven Ertelt
November 18, 2005
Kansas City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A Missouri judge ruled Thursday that a law which allows parents to sue abortion facilities of their staff when they help a teenager get a secret abortion out of state is constitutional.
However, Jackson County Circuit Judge Charles Atwell did issue an injunction preventing the law from being enforced while abortion advocates appeal his ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Judge Atwell said state officials could not investigate or discipline anyone under the law until the Missouri Supreme Court hands down its ruling on the case.
Atwell first issued a temporary restraining order against enforcing the law in October after Planned Parenthood filed its lawsuit. At the time, Atwell said he thought Planned Parenthood would prevail in the case and sympathized with its argument that the law violated its right to free speech by preventing it from discussing abortion with teenagers.
Planned Parenthood claims it would be violating the law by talking with a teen who eventually went out of state with someone other than her parents for an abortion.
Assistant Attorney General Vickie Mahon argued that it was unfair to single out the one provision in the law and said the abortion facility’s First Amendment rights would be violated only if it encouraged teens to go out of state for secret abortions.
Atwell’s ruling applies only to the out-of-state provision in the law the legislature approved and does not apply to the admitting privileges requirement.
The law also says abortion practitioners must have admitting privileges at a local hospital in case of a botched abortion and that provision is already partly responsible for closing an abortion center in Springfield.
Gov. Matt Blunt said in a written statement that he was pleased with the decision.
"I am pleased this ruling reaffirms the value Missourians and I place on human life and protecting our most vulnerable citizens," Blunt said. "I expect the Attorney General to vigorously defend the law during the inevitable appeals."