by Steven Ertelt
September 25, 2007
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge in Missouri has issued an injunction preventing state officials from enforcing a new abortion law designed to protect the health and safety of women. The judge wants to craft a compromise with abortion facilities and the ruling has both the state and abortion advocates saying they prevailed.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and St. Louis abortion practitioner Allen Palmer challenged the new health and safety code.
The statute in question makes sure abortion centers meet the same health requirements as legitimate medical facilities.
It makes abortion centers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars or more on remodeling their centers to ensure women are better protected in cases when abortions are botched and emergency medical care is necessary.
Abortion advocates sued, saying they would have to close down because of the cost of the changes.
U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith issued an injunction Monday and pleased the state by saying he didn’t think abortion businesses could prove the new law is unconstitutional.
However, abortion advocates were happy Judge Smith said the so-called right to abortion under Roe v. Wade would be infringed if the state enforced the law in the strongest manner possible.
According to an AP report, Judge Smith noted the state health department is willing to provide some abortion centers with waivers allowing them to opt out of specific portions of the new law and he urged that to happen and abortion facilities to apply for the waivers.
The judge also granted a partial victory to abortion advocate by ruling that the law would likely be unconstitutional if it applied to centers that dispense the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug but don’t do surgical abortions.
Peter Brownlie, Planned Parenthood’s president and chief executive officer, told AP the ruling means "it will be very difficult for the state to ever enforce those regulations on the Kansas City center."
Meanwhile, Dale Schowengerdt, a pro-life attorney representing the state health department, told AP "Although the court issued a preliminary injunction, we’re very pleased in large part with the result because he upheld the constitutionality of the act and is allowing the process to go forward so that the department can begin to implement the act."
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.
Pam Fichter, the head of Missouri Right to Life, told LifeNews.com that the ruling should not exclude abortions done with drugs.
"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.