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Planned Parenthood seeks injunction against Mo. TRAP measures

Two Planned Parenthood branches on Monday asked a federal judge to block Missouri from enforcing two abortion restrictions at issue in a lawsuit challenging the restrictions' constitutionality, the Springfield News-Leader reports (Schmitt, Springfield News-Leader, 12/12).

According to Planned Parenthood officials, an order halting the state from enforcing the restrictions would allow four additional clinics to provide abortion care in Missouri (Ballentine, AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/12). The restrictions have left only one abortion clinic in operation in the state. The clinic is located in St. Louis.

Lawsuit details

In late November, reproductive-rights advocates filed lawsuits challenging abortion restrictions in Missouri, North Carolina and Alaska as unconstitutional. The push follows a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that struck down two provisions in Texas' omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2): One provision required abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and the other required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Julie Rikelman, interim vice president of the U.S. legal program at CRR, said the Texas ruling makes clear that states must consider whether a restriction on abortion benefits health. According to Rikelman, states must "look at real and credible evidence" and not "junk science."

In the Missouri lawsuit, advocates are challenging ambulatory surgical center building requirements and admitting privileges rules similar to those struck down in the Texas case. Planned Parenthood officials noted that some women seeking abortion care in the state have to travel more than 300 miles to reach the St. Louis clinic (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/1).

Motion for preliminary injunction

On Monday, attorneys representing the two Planned Parenthood affiliates asked U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs to issue an immediate preliminary injunction against the contested provisions (AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/12). According to the News-Leader, Planned Parenthood specifically wants to block the state health department, Attorney General Chris Koster, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson and prosecutors in Jasper, Boone and Jackson counties from enforcing the restrictions, which prevent Planned Parenthood from providing abortion care in Springfield, Joplin and Columbia.

In the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood contended that the Missouri restrictions violate the organization's rights under the 14th Amendment by creating an undue burden. The organizations in seeking the injunction said Planned Parenthood and its patients are suffering ongoing and "irreparabl[e]" harm while the contested provisions are enforced. Further, Planned Parenthood said the injunction would serve the public interest (Springfield News-Leader, 12/12).

Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said the injunction would allow them to expand access to care in the state. According to McQuade and Kogut, the injunction would allow their organizations to provide medication abortion and abortion procedures in Columbia and Springfield and offer medication abortion in Joplin and Kansas City.

Comments

McQuade said the injunction is critical "to expand access to safe and legal abortion care as soon as possible in Missouri" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/12).

In a statement, McQuade and Kogut said, "Every day, there are countless Missourians who cannot afford the burdensome travel expenses and extended time it takes to seek safe, legal abortion in this state."

They continued, "Partisan lawmakers, not doctors, have used regulations to set up countless barriers and punish women as part of an extreme ideological attack on a constitutional right established four decades ago. We are asking the court to use their authority to strike down unconstitutional, medically unnecessary laws so Missourians can swiftly access safe and legal abortion across the state at more health centers in their own communities" (Springfield News-Leader, 12/12).