Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed an appeal Thursday of a judge’s decision to block a new state law that protects unborn babies from abortion after their heartbeats are detectable.
Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked parts of the pro-life law in a preliminary injunction. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the law in court.
The Missouri Stands For the Unborn Act (HB 126) prohibits abortions after 8 weeks, once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. However, it also includes incremental stages to ban abortions after 14 weeks, 18 weeks or 20 weeks if the earlier bans are overturned. In addition, it requires that both parents be notified before an underage girl has an abortion. It also includes a ban on discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s sex, race or Down syndrome diagnosis, as well as a complete abortion ban once Roe v. Wade is overturned. Gov. Mike Parson signed it into law in May.
U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs blocked each of the incremental bans as well as the 8-week ban. However, he left in place the ban on discriminatory abortions.
Soon afterward, Schmitt’s office responded by highlighting the value of every human life.
“As the father of a child with special needs, Attorney General Schmitt is particularly sensitive to suggestions that an unborn child who will have special needs is any lesser of a human being, and we’re glad that provisions relating to that issue were left in place in the judge’s ruling today,” his spokesman Chris Nuelle said in a statement.
Then, on Thursday, Schmitt followed up by filing an appeal of Sachs’ ruling.
Pro-life leaders in the state thanked Schmitt for moving forward with an appeal.
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“The portion of HB 126 found so egregious by Judge Sachs is that our pro-life legislators would try to save babies with a heartbeat and that can feel excruciating pain during an abortion,” said Steve Rupp, president of Missouri Right to Life. “Sachs gave the abortion industry an open door to continue killing these babies with a beating heart.”
Samuel H. Lee of Campaign Life Missouri urged people to pray for a successful appeal.
“And please continue to pray for our attorney general and his hardworking, dedicated Solicitor General John Sauer and his diligent, unwavering team of lawyers working with him,” Lee said.
No matter what the courts decide, Catholic Archbishop Robert J. Carlson reminded people that their rulings do “not change the truth that life begins at conception,” according to the St. Louis Review.
“All of us are responsible for protecting life, from conception to natural death. I urge those in positions of federal, state and local decision-making power to put politics aside, to consider the truth that all life has dignity, and to make decisions that will save the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable in our communities — the unborn,” Carlson said.
He also said pro-lifers are “committed to providing support, services and life-sustaining education to women during and after pregnancy, especially those who may feel frightened, alone or contemplating abortion.”
The ACLU filed the lawsuit earlier this month after its attempt at a voter referendum petition to overturn the law failed.
After Sachs’ ruling, Colleen McNicholas, an abortionist and chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said women should be allowed to abort unborn babies for any reason – including because the baby is a girl or because the baby may have Down syndrome.
“Although we are grateful today’s ruling allows us to provide care to some Missourians, we will continue to defend the truth: EVERY reason to have an abortion is a valid reason,” McNicholas said.
Lawyers for the state said Missouri wants to protect unborn babies’ lives as well as women’s. They also argued that Planned Parenthood does not have standing to sue the state.
According to the Missouri health department, 3,903 abortions were done in the state in 2017, and 119 of those were babies killed after 20 weeks.
Polling released earlier this year by the Susan B. Anthony List found that 82 percent of Missouri voters – including 66 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of independents, 83 percent of women, and 61 percent of self-described pro-choice voters – support a law prohibiting late-term abortions (only 18 percent support allowing late-term abortions).