Planned Parenthood, ACLU File Suit Against Missouri over Abortion Ban

Thousands of demonstrators march in support of Planned Parenthood and pro-choice as they protest a state decision that would effectively halt abortions by revoking the license of the last center in the state that performs the procedure, during a rally in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019. (Photo by SAUL …
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Planned Parenthood joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) this week in filing a lawsuit against Missouri over the state’s law that bans abortion past the eighth week of pregnancy.

“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 of Planned Parenthood.

Johnson recently assumed her position after the organization’s sudden ouster of Dr. Leana Wen, its first physician president in decades. She referred to the abortion bans that have been passed in 12 states this year as “dangerous and illegal.”

“We are living in a terrifying world where politicians are doing all they can to overturn Roe v. Wade — no matter how many people’s lives they put at risk,” she said.

In May, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed into law the bill that bans abortions in the state after the eighth week of pregnancy.

The law — the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act — is considered one of the most comprehensive pieces of pro-life legislation in the country. It makes an exception for a medical emergency but not for rape or incest.

The law recognizes that “God is the author of life” and declares that Missouri “and all of its political subdivisions are a ‘sanctuary of life’ that protects pregnant women and their unborn children.”

The law also prohibits an individual from performing or inducing an abortion on the basis of a prenatal diagnosis of potential for Down syndrome or because of the race or sex of the unborn child.

Additionally, the measure requires parental consent prior to a minor’s abortion.

Abortionists who defy the law could face five to 15 years in prison. Women who choose to have an abortion after the eight-week period would not be prosecuted under the law.

Tony Rothert, acting executive director of the ACLU of Missouri, attributed the abortion bans and restrictions to President Donald Trump.

“The ACLU will not stand by while politicians emboldened by President Trump’s anti-abortion agenda exploit our health and our lives for political gain,” he said. “We demand that the courts block these unconstitutional restrictions that criminalize abortion and shame people seeking car[e].”

Missouri Rep. Nicholas B. Schroer, who sponsored the legislation, said its purpose was not to provoke a court challenge.

“This legislation has one goal, and that is to save lives … to withstand judicial challenges and not cause them,” he said, reported NBC News. “While others are zeroing in on ways to overturn Roe v. Wade and navigate the courts as quickly as possible, that is not our goal. However, if and when that fight comes we will be fully ready.”

The case is Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, Inc. v. Parson, No. 2:19-cv-4155, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri Central Division.

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