Planned Parenthood suffered a major loss Tuesday when the U.S. District Court for western Missouri ruled against its bid to overturn a new Missouri law on the subject of so-called “medication” abortion.
As defined, a medication abortion is a two-step process. The first medication must be administered at a health facility. The second medication the woman can take anywhere some 24-48 hours after the first medication.
In the summer of 2017, the Missouri Legislature passed legislation requiring abortion providers to create a “complication plan” and get it approved by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, (DHSS).
In October 2017, DHHS described what a complication plan must look like. Most controversially, the plan had to have a contracted OB/GYN available “twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to treat complications related to abortion drugs prescribed or administered.”
The Planned Parenthood clinics in St. Louis and suburban Kansas City were able to identify OB/GYNs willing to participate, but its clinic in Columbia, Missouri, was not. “For various reasons that need not be detailed in this Order,” notes the Court, “none agreed to associate with Plaintiffs.”
After offering strategies to circumvent the law and getting them rejected, Planned Parenthood (“the plaintiffs”) filed a three-count complaint, alleging that the regulation violated “substantive Due Process rights, the Equal Protection Clause, and procedural Due Process rights.”
Judge Beth Phillips did not buy Planned Parenthood’s arguments. As Phillips noted, few women would forego a medication abortion if they truly wanted one. To get one would require only a drive to Kansas City or St. Louis. Besides, a woman could have a surgical abortion if the drive was too much bother.
According to Phillips, “Plaintiffs have not established that the regulation is a substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a medication abortion.” So saying she denied Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction.
Eric Greitens’ tenure as governor was not without its fruits.