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Missouri Law Increasing Regulations on Abortion Clinics Temporarily Blocked

A federal judge issued an order Monday temporarily blocking a Missouri law that would reclassify abortion clinics as outpatient surgical centers subject to increased regulation by the state. Under the law, H.B. 1055, any clinic or physician’s office that provides more than five abortions a month would have to conform to a number of rigid rules, which would force the immediate closure of at least two of state’s three clinics.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM) filed suit in August saying the law was unconstitutional because it would place an undue burden on women seeking abortions. PPKM’s president told the Los Angeles Times that it would cost around $1 million to renovate the Planned Parenthood clinic in Central Missouri’which performs about 600 first-trimester abortions per year’into compliance.

The judge’s ruling will allow clinics and physicians to continue to provide abortion services during a court ordered negotiation between PPKM and the health department. PPKM is to inform the health department within 30 days of the regulations it considers too burdensome. The health department has 30 days to respond. If the two groups cannot reach a resolution, they will have to return to court.

The judge ruled that if the health department agrees to waive certain requirements, he would be unlikely to find the law unconstitutional. Peter Brownlie, president of PPKM, told the Kansas City Star that the health department recently seemed willing to negotiate, but expressed concern that the anti-abortion agenda of the bill’s sponsors and Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, who supports the bill, would prevent this.

“This onerous legislation has nothing to do with protecting women’s health and safety,” Brownlie said in an August statement. “This is a blatant attempt to close down clinics and deny women their right to health care.”

Sources:

Los Angeles Times 9/10/07; Kansas City Star 9/24/07; St. Louis Post-Dispatch 9/25/07