by Steven Ertelt
August 24, 2007
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge will issue a ruling on Monday regarding a new abortion law in Missouri that makes abortion businesses there meet the same health and safety requirements as legitimate medical clinics. However, it appears the judge is likely to overturn the law or issue an injunction while the case continues.
U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith said he would issue a ruling in the case by the end of the day on Monday.
His announcement came during a hearing where state attorneys battled with lawyers from Planned Parenthood over whether the law is necessary.
Under the law, abortion centers would be monitored by the Department of Health and Senior Services as ambulatory surgical clinics, which must meet higher standards for both the facility and staff.
That designation applies to any abortion center where second or third-trimester abortions are done as well as places that do more than five first-trimester abortions a month.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the statute claiming the new regulations would require extensive remodeling to its Columbia facility that would cost $2 million. Without the refurbishment, the abortion center would have to close because it couldn’t meet the new safety codes.
Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, testified to that effect during the Thursday hearing.
Brownlie argued that the law is invalid because it would also apply to its Kansas City center, that only does abortions with the RU 486 drug rather than surgical ones.
Smith seemed to buy the argument, according to a Kansas City Star report, and wondered how requiring the abortion business to upgrade its facility would improve the effectiveness of the abortion drug.
“It seems to me these results could apply to every pharmacy in the state of Missouri,” Smith said, according to the Star. “They dispense medications that could cause complications, yet the state of Missouri isn’t requiring them to retrofit.”
“Let’s be real — the purpose of the legislation was to make abortions more difficult for women to obtain,” Smith said.
Michael Pritchett, assistant attorney general, replied that the abortion drug works differently and in a more extreme manner than drugs dispensed by a pharmacy.
Backers of the law also have a dispute as to who should represent the state.
Attorneys for pro-abortion Attorney General Jay Nixon appeared to represent his office, but Jane Drummond, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, wants attorneys from the pro-life Alliance Defense Fund law firm to represent the state.
Their attorneys presented evidence from a University of Michigan obstetrician and gynecologist, who said that the law is needed because women are experiencing medical problems following abortions.