by Steven Ertelt
September 11, 2007
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Abortion businesses told a federal court Monday they would have to spend too much money to comply with a new state law increasing the health and safety requirements on them. They prefer to follow the current less protective laws rather than possibly spending more than $1 million to comply with the new ones.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and St. Louis abortion practitioner Allen Palmer are challenging the new health and safety code.
The statute in question makes sure abortion centers meet the same health requirements as legitimate medical facilities.
U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith granted Palmer and Planned Parenthood a temporary restraining order and heard oral arguments Monday about the law and its effects.
Smith said that the temporary order would remain in effect until he hands down a ruling on a permanent restraining order on September 24.
During the hearing, architect George Johannes, who teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, testified for Palmer and said the new law would require him to spend about $1.3 million to have his Bridgeton abortion business comply with the new law’s requirements.
That would force him to shut down the abortion facility.
“I’d close the practice,” Palmer said. “I could no longer afford to keep the practice open.”
Cary Goodman, another longtime architect, claimed the Planned Parenthood abortion center in Columbia would have to spend $600,000 or more to meet the safety codes.
Both architects admitted that they did not do estimates on the cost of refurbishments should the state waive some of the requirements.
Meanwhile, Donna Harrison, a gynecologist and president-elect of the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, testified for the state about why the health laws are necessary. She said they would protect women from dangers associated with both surgical and medical abortions.
She also said it is necessary to make sure the abortion centers can handle cases when abortions are botched and women need emergency medical care.
“Any surgery must be performed in a facility that can handle the most common complications,” Harrison said, according to the Kansas City Star.
The new law 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.
Judge Smith perviously 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. He also said the law would harm women by reducing the number of abortion centers available to them.
Despite the initial ruling, Smith warned both sides not to read too much into it.
"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.