Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Telling Women Abortion Risks, Alternatives

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Telling Women Abortion Risks, Alternatives Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 28, 2006

Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld legislation allowing women to know about abortion’s risks and alternatives 24 hours before an abortion is performed. The court rejected arguments by abortion businesses that the law was too vague or infringed on the so-called right to abortion.

The unanimous ruling by the state’s high court said the law did not run afoul of the state’s constitution.

"The statute merely codifies the physician’s duty to obtain informed consent from a patient prior to an abortion and creates a criminal or disciplinary liability if the physician knowingly fails to fulfill that duty," the court explained.

However, Planned Parenthood abortion centers plan to continue their case at the federal court level, even though the Supreme Court has upheld similar laws in other states. The Missouri court cited the 1992 Casey ruling upholding the portion of Pennsylvania’s abortion law requiring the information be given to women.

In December, a federal judge allowed the 24 hour waiting period component of the Right to Know measure take effect, but he’s not allowing the information aspect of the measure to be enforced.

Under the law, the information would include "risk factors, including any physical, psychological or situational factors for the [abortion]."

Planned Parenthood claimed that information is vague and that its abortion practitioners may not understand what to tell women considering an abortion.

The measure was scheduled to become law in September 2003 when state lawmakers overrode a veto from then-Governor Bob Holden, a pro-abortion Democrat.

Judge Scott Wright, who issued the December ruling, issued a temporary restraining order against the law, which the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily lifted in may 2004.

Wright issued a second injunction after the appeals court ruling, prohibiting the law from taking effect under a separate state challenge.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 21 ruled 2-1 to uphold certain elements of Wright’s second injunction, requiring the order be sent back to Wright for modifications that would make the injunction more restrictive.

With the exception of medical emergencies, Wright said in his new order that abortion practitioners must discuss "truthful, nonmisleading information of the nature of the proposed procedure" 24 hours prior to an abortion.

Judge Wright also said abortion practitioners must make sure they obtain written consent before performing an abortion.

Observers say Wright is attempting to make sure Missouri law conforms with the Casey decision.