Missouri Abortion Practitioner Can Join Lawsuit Against Health Safety Law
by Steven Ertelt
September 3, 2007
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Missouri abortion practitioner who wants to join a lawsuit Planned Parenthood has filed. The suit seeks to overturn a Missouri law protecting the health and safety of women who have abortions because the abortion business says making the changes it requires would be too costly.
The statue in question makes sure abortion centers meet the same health requirements as legitimate medical facilities.
Allen Palmer, who operates a private abortion business in St. Louis, appeared in a federal court on Friday morning to argue that she should be allowed to participate in the case.
He also wants to overturn the health and safety law and get a judge to rule it’s unconstitutional so he doesn’t have to abide by it. Palmer was not previously required to be licensed by the state because he did abortions in a private office.
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 previously didn’t include Palmer’s abortion facility.
U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith granted Palmer a temporary restraining order, a similar on that he allowed for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri last Monday.
Now, lawyers for Palmer will appear before judge Smith on September 10 for a longer hearing about the law and its effects.
The law was scheduled to take effect on Tuesday, but Planned Parenthood argued it would cost millions of dollars to refurbish its abortion centers in Columbia and Kansas City to meet the new requirements. That would require the abortion business to close the facilities down.
The 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.
Smith appeared to buy into arguments Planned Parenthood lawyers made about how the ruling would play out between abortion centers that do just surgical or just non-surgical abortions. Judge Smith also said the law would harm women by reducing the number of abortion centers available to them.
Despite the ruling, Smith warned both sides not to read too much into it, according to an AP report.
"The state has a legitimate interest in regulating facilities that perform surgery, even if the facility in question performs surgical abortions," he said. "The court also believes the state may differentiate between facilities that do not primarily perform surgery based on the types of surgery they provide."
Still, he said it was confusing how the state would apply the law to Planned Parenthood’s Kansas City center, which doesn’t do surgical abortions. Instead, it gives women the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug.
Smith said the law should probably apply to the Colombia abortion center.
Pam Fichter, the head of Missouri Right to Life, told LifeNews.com she is very disappointed by the ruling.
"Although the Kansas City abortion clinic claims to induce abortions only through drugs, the drugs are dangerous," Fichter said. "They often require surgical intervention because of incomplete abortions, severe bleeding, and other adverse consequences."
She said findings from the FDA show that "approximately one in 12 women need surgical care, sometimes on an emergency basis, after taking the abortion drugs."
Missouri already requires abortion facilities to be licensed by the state health department but only one — a Planned Parenthood center in St. Louis — meets the current requirements for licensing. The new law would heighten requirements for all centers.