Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue Missouri over abortion restrictions

Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue Missouri over abortion restrictions
© Getty Images

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Missouri Tuesday over a slate of new laws aimed at restricting abortion in the state. 

The groups said the lawsuit centers around House Bill 126, legislation that would ban abortion after eight weeks without exceptions for rape or incest and includes criminal consequences for physicians who perform the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The suit also cited other laws, including one requiring “invasive and medically inappropriate pelvic exams” before all abortions and another forbidding the procedure solely based on a prenatal test indicating a specific sex or mental disability.

“Planned Parenthood will not cower to politicians who are trying to dismantle our access to safe, legal abortion — not in Missouri, and not anywhere else,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood. “Until politicians listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans who want abortion to remain safe, legal, and accessible, we will fight to ensure that every person can still access reproductive health care: no matter what.” 

“Unless they are blocked by the court, these extreme laws would outright ban the vast majority of abortions in Missouri,” added Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Politicians have no business dictating personal medical decisions, and we will not stand for it: the ACLU, along with our partners, is in this fight until these laws are blocked once and for all, and everyone who needs an abortion in Missouri can get one.” 

The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri Central Division, is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the restrictions on behalf of themselves and their patients, saying they amount to “a targeted campaign” that will “have a devastating effect on patients” and “prohibit the vast majority of pre-viability abortions” 

The suit names Missouri Gov. Michael Parson (R) and Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R), among others.

Missouri’s abortion laws were thrust into the national spotlight after its lone abortion clinic was threatened with closure after the state refused to renew its license. An administrative panel ruled last month the facility could remain open until at least August while a dispute over its license is settled.

If the clinic were to close, Missouri would become the first state in more than 50 years without an abortion clinic.

Missouri is one of a slate of Republican-led states that have sought to implement an array of abortion restrictions. Advocates say the campaign is intended in part to spark a Supreme Court battle that they hope could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that first legalized abortion.