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Federal Judge denies preliminary injunction, upholds Missouri’s Pro-Life Regulations

Planned Parenthood Fails at Third Attempt to Eliminate Safety Provisions Designed to Protect Women’s Health, Missouri at an All-Time Low for Number of Abortions

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt

Last week, the U.S. District court for the Western District of Missouri denied a motion for preliminary injunction filed by Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains (Planned Parenthood) in their lawsuit v. Dr. Randall Williams and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). As a result of this decision, the Columbia, Missouri, Planned Parenthood facility remains unable to perform abortions due to its inability to adequately care for women should complications arise following an abortion.

“This is a huge victory for protecting women’s health and the right to life,” said Governor Mike Parson. “It’s sad that Planned Parenthood continues to fight against ensuring that a woman’s abortion provider has privileges to a nearby hospital when complications arise. As a former member of the Missouri General Assembly, I was proud to cast votes in support of protecting life and women’s health that have now been upheld in the court of law.”

Gov. Parson added, “As other states in our nation, like New York and Virginia, venture further and further away from the American ideal to uphold the right to life, I’m honored to lead a state with so many people committed to standing up for those without a voice. Thanks to decades of conservative, pro-life leadership, Missouri recently hit an all-time low for the number of abortions.”

In October 2018, the same federal court declined to issue an injunction against state law requiring physicians performing abortions at the Columbia Planned Parenthood facility to have hospital privileges. As the court stated, this is because the Columbia abortion facility was not compliant with state sanitation regulations, after a routine safety inspection discovered apparent black mold and bodily fluid in equipment used to treat patients.

“We appreciate the District Court’s ruling that permits the same standards of care for women that is associated with other invasive surgical procedures,” said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director. As stated in his attestation to the Court, “This is not a burden but a responsibility that physicians dedicated to caring for their patients exercise daily to ensure their patients’ safety by timely providing care at a time patients need it the most, during complications.”

“Missouri Right to Life and pro-life Missourians across the State of Missouri are relieved and thankful at the recent ruling of Judge Wimes,” said Steve Rupp, President of Missouri Right to Life. “The judge found that the requirement in Missouri statute from the passage of SB 5 to require hospital privileges within a 30-mile radius of the abortion facility does not present a ‘substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion.’

“In their filings last month, Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office argued that the complication rate from abortions in Missouri ‘is almost double the national complication rate of 2.1 percent predicted by Plaintiffs.’ Since 2009, over 60 ambulances have been called to the Planned Parenthood in St Louis. Schmitt’s office also argued that the Columbia Planned Parenthood facility has a long history of health and safety violations.

“Thankfully, the number of operating abortion facilities in Missouri will remain at one. Every day abortions are offered, women are put in harm’s way and unborn babies die.

“We thank Attorney General Eric Schmitt for fighting for these critical laws to protect women’s health and well-being.”

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Abortion Blog Judicial Missouri

Obama appointee refuses Planned Parenthood’s third request for injunction against Missouri law requiring admitting privileges

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. District Judge
Brian Wimes

Give Planned Parenthood credit. They keep testing Missouri’s law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and they keep getting shot down.

On Friday Rudi Keller of the Columbia Daily Tribune reported that Obama appointee U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes “refused to issue a preliminary injunction that would have allowed Planned Parenthood to resume offering abortions in Columbia.” The ruling “was in response to a third request for an injunction, filed after the clinic was notified in December that it had met every licensing that it had met every licensing requirement except the hospital privileges rule.”

Judge Wimes found, according to Keller, “that attorneys for Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains had not shown that regulations requiring abortion providers have hospital privileges are a ‘substantial obstacle’ in the path of women seeking an abortion.”

As Keller observed, there are various criteria for determining whether to grant a preliminary injunction, including “irreparable harm” and a likelihood of winning a lawsuit. Judge Wimes zeroed in on the latter since that has been “most important factor” for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Planned Parenthood based its lawsuit on a litany of complaints (all vigorously contested by the state of Missouri), including an inability to find hospitals willing to give abortionists admitting privileges, overcrowding, and longer waiting times.

Judge Wimes wasn’t buying any of it:

In particular, Plaintiffs do not present evidence of attempts to find physicians with hospital privileges willing to provide abortion services at the Columbia Facility, or evidence of fewer doctors, longer wait times, and increased crowding at RHS [Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood] in St. Louis. …

“In sum, evidence of increased driving distance relative to the privileges requirement standing alone, for purposes of the motion for preliminary injunction, is not sufficient, even when weighed against the assertions of benefits conferred by the privileges requirement, to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits.”

The impact of Judge Wimes’ ruling means that Missouri will have only clinic offering abortion “services”: Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

Missouri Attorney General
Eric Schmitt

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office has vigorously defended the law. In court filing last January, Schmitt argued that the complication rate from abortions in Missouri “is almost double the national complication rate of 2.1 percent predicted by Plaintiffs’” and then cited a long history of health and safety violations at the Planned Parenthood clinic at Columbia.

He went to detail what Schmitt described as “the four layers, so to speak, of abortion complications” and how the law did not apply just to one abortion clinic.

Fourth, there are the abortion complications that would have occurred but did not, because since 2007 Missouri has imposed reasonable regulations on abortion facilities designed to promote women’s health and safety. In claiming that the St. Louis facility has a strong safety record (which it does not), Plaintiffs overlook that, for the entire relevant time period, the St. Louis facility complied with both the ASC requirements and the hospital-privileges requirement that have been challenged in this case. Even more complications, and more severe complications, would undoubtedly have occurred if abortion facilities had been radically deregulated as Plaintiffs wish.

This point is especially important because the hospital-privileges requirement and other regulations are not directed only to Plaintiffs, or only to the Columbia facility. Rather, they are statewide requirements that prevent abuses and promote safety not just at Plaintiffs’ facilities, but also for “the shoddiest operators” and “the worst providers” [a quote from a Chicago Tribune story].

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Blog Eric Schmitt Missouri Politics

Missouri Right to Life applauds Governor Mike Parson’s selection of Eric Schmitt to be Missouri’s next Attorney General

Editor’s note. Pro-life Missouri AG Josh Hawley defeated pro-abortion incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill in the 2018 midterm elections held last week.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt

In the last two years, the Attorney General’s office has been key in protecting the right to life of all innocent human beings and defending Missouri’s pro-life laws.

Missourians elected former Attorney General Josh Hawley for his pro-life values. We are thankful that Governor Parson has appointed another strong pro-life Attorney General who respects and believes that life is precious from inception to natural death.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt, in his acceptance speech, spoke about his early years of life and why he became a lawyer. He spoke of the values with which he was raised and now wants to use as our chief law enforcement officer. He spoke about protecting our way of life for his family and for generations to come.

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Abortion Blog Judicial Missouri

Two Pro-life Wins in Missouri

By Katie Franklin

In yet another win for religious liberty, last week a federal court ruled that an ordinance intended to make St. Louis a “sanctuary city” for abortion is unconstitutional.

In an opinion issued September 30, Judge Audrey Fleissig of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri said that the controversial ordinance violated the First Amendment rights of Our Lady’s Inn Maternity Homes by forcing them and any pro-life business or organization “to employ or house individuals who advocate for or perform abortions,” purportedly to protect abortion supporters from discrimination.

From the ruling:

[T]he Court finds that Our Lady’s Inn is an expressive association entitled to protection under the free-exercise clause. The mission of Our Lady’s Inn is to encourage and assist homeless women to forgo abortion, and it calls itself a “life-affirming alternative to abortion.” … Our Lady’s Inn communicates that mission to its residents, but also provides support to pregnant women who chose not to have an abortion and engages in a variety of other activities aimed at raising awareness of “the dignity of life.” … [T]he forced inclusion of individuals who do not share Our Lady’s Inn’s commitment against abortion would significantly affect the ability of Our Lady’s Inn to advocate for its services and encourage women to forgo abortion.

Last May, the Thomas More Society sued the City of St. Louis on behalf of Our Lady’s Inn, as well as the archdiocesan elementary schools of St. Louis and the Catholic owner of a for-profit holding company, both of whom would have been impacted by the law.

“This law that claims to protect abortion supporters from discrimination is actually an attempt to suppress the viewpoint of those who believe that abortion is harmful or wrong by making it impossible for them to operate in accordance with their beliefs within the City of St. Louis,” Sarah Pitlyk, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, said in a statement.

“We are especially pleased with the Court’s acknowledgement that there is no evidence whatsoever of the kind of discrimination that this ordinance purports to address, because it exposes the law for the sham that it is,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it took a lawsuit to vindicate the fundamental rights of St. Louis citizens…”

Pregnancy help organizations like Our Lady’s Inn Maternity Homes—which has served over 6,000 women since first opening their doors in 1982— have faced a wave of still more targeted political attacks over the years, forced to promote abortions from New York to California. But last week’s decision adds to an ever-growing list of court rulings striking down such unjust laws as violations of the First Amendment.

A Second Win for Life

It also marks the second win for pro-life Missourians this week, as a federal judge ruled Tuesday against a Planned Parenthood abortion facility that could not comply with state health department rules, leaving just one abortion clinic in the state.

Stationed in Columbia, Missouri, the Planned Parenthood abortion facility was denied a license for failing to follow a state law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled constitutional last month.

In August, the facility was also cited by the Missouri Department of Health for multiple health code violations upon the discovery of rusted and moldy equipment, and one suction hose with residue that appeared to be bodily fluids. In September, a second inspection revealed the same unsanitary conditions to still be present.

With the closure of the Columbia location, a St. Louis Planned Parenthood will take the role of the state’s last-standing abortion facility.

Cindi Boston, vice president of Heartbeat International—a global network of 2,600 pregnancy help organizations—says this week’s decisions are positive ones for women and babies.

Having played a role in advancing the state’s admitting privileges law in 2005, Boston is familiar with its importance, as well as its life-saving impact. While serving as the former CEO of Pregnancy Care Center in Springfield, Missouri, Boston actually received a unique donation because of the law: the building of a shoddy abortion facility that was shut down after the law took effect.

“It was so cool to be a part of the passage of that bill, as it ultimately shut down the abortion clinic in our community…and then the building was donated to us!” she said. “Don’t you love the miracles that can happen in this movement?”

Former Missouri State Senator John Loudon, who sponsored the original admitting privileges bill, was also amazed at the blessings his work has born in the 13 years since first advocating for the law.

“The greatest blessing of the lawmaking process is seeing God’s hand physically move people,” he said. “When the desires of our hearts lead us to join others working for His will, we truly can move mountains. We may not see the fruit of our daily work or financial contributions as often as we like, but suddenly, see the Lord deliver far more than we could dream, in His time and to His glory.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.

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Admitting privileges Blog Judicial Missouri

Judge declines to block law’s safety requirement, Missouri down to one abortion clinic in St. Louis

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. Western District Court Judge Brian Wimes

Following on the heels of a pro-life decision by the 8th District Court of Appeals, U.S. Western District Court Judge Brian Wimes on Tuesday refused to block Missouri’s law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and abortion clinics to meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers.

Last month the federal appeals court vacated a May 2017 preliminary injunction issued by U.S District Judge Howard Sachs. “The judges issued a mandate Monday for that rule to officially take effect,” the Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday Judge Wimes refused to issue a restraining order or injunction to block the requirement.

As we have reported on many occasions [for example here and here], the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic has been unable to secure physician with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in case of emergencies.

In addition, as the Columbia Tribune’s Rudi Keller reported, if problems are found at the annual licensing inspection, “the problems must be corrected on a re-inspection, a process that continues until all issues are resolved.” And inspectors found numerous deficiencies.

The department visited the clinic Aug. 14 and again on Sept. 26.

“When I and the Department’s inspectors entered the Columbia facility for the follow-up inspection on September 26, 2018, I fully expected that all deficiencies identified in the August 14, 2018, Statement of Deficiencies would have been corrected, particularly given that the license expires October 2, 2018,” William Koebel, administrator for the department’s Section for Health Standards and Licensure, wrote to the court. “Instead, I and the inspectors found that some of those items still had not been corrected.”

The inspection last Wednesday found rust on the cabinets of suction machines, a condition that was also found Aug. 14. Inspectors also found a hose on a machine that appeared to have mold inside and another hose with residue that appeared to be bodily fluids, Koebel wrote.

Planned Parenthood argued the problems were corrected but the Health Department was dragging its feet in conducting a re-inspection. Koebel disagreed.

According to Keller’s story

Any delays are the result of the standard departmental procedures, Koebel wrote. After a statement of deficiencies is delivered to a licensee, the department must receive a formal correction plan before scheduling a re-inspection, he wrote.

“It is not part of the standard licensure renewal inspection process for facilities to file affidavits in federal court rather than affording the department the opportunity to review the facilities’ plan of correction and revisit the facility to confirm that the deficiencies have been corrected,” he wrote.

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Planned Parenthood tries again to negate protective Missouri regulations

By Dave Andrusko

Planned Parenthood’s Missouri affiliates really do believe that if at first you don’t succeed try, try (and try) again. As NRL News Today reported earlier this month, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned U.S District Judge Howard Sachs’ May 2017 temporary restraining order against the state’s requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and abortion clinics to meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers.

“There’s a tight deadline before abortion services will be cut,” the Associated Press reported. “Appeals judges are expected to issue their final mandate that will allow the law to take effect Oct. 1, and abortions are scheduled for Oct. 3 in Columbia.”

Planned Parenthood’s attorneys argue that since the Columbia abortion clinic cannot meet the requirement, only St. Louis would be able to provide abortions: “Without further relief from this Court, at least 22% of women seeking abortion at the Columbia facility will be prevented entirely from exercising their constitutional right to choose, due to their inability to travel the long distance to obtain an abortion in St. Louis.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Mary Compton, spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, said that the office “will continue to vigorously defend Missouri’s commonsense regulations that protect women’s health and safety.”

Three-judge panel unpersuaded

The three-judge appeals court panel “said it did not have enough information to determine how easily abortion clinics could obtain waivers from the licensing rules and whether those requirements posed an undue burden on clinics,” Reuters Nate Raymond reported in early September. “U.S. Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd, who wrote the opinion, said the lower-court judge also erred by not considering the state’s arguments about the benefits of the provision requiring doctors who perform abortions be affiliated with hospitals.”

As Judge Shepherd explained

Invoking the Constitution to enjoin the laws of a state requires smore than “slight implication and vague conjecture.” [A quote from a prior decision.] At a minimum, it requires adequate information and correct application of the relevant standard. Because we conclude that the preliminary injunction in this case was entered based on less than adequate information and an insufficient regard for the relevant standard, we vacate the preliminary injunction and remand.

Pro-abortionists immediately argued the requirements were already litigated (and rejected) in the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision. But, in fact, the two laws (Texas’ and Missouri’s) are not identical.

Judge Shepherd, of course, noted that out in his decision. But he also clarified what Hellerstedt held: [internal citations omitted]

As noted in our prior discussion, Hellerstedt’s rendition of the undue burden standard is fairly straightforward: it “requires that courts consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits those laws confer.” Indeed it emphasized there is “an independent constitutional duty to review factual findings where constitutional rights are at stake.” Thus, Hellerstedt did not find, as a matter of law, that abortion was inherently safe or that provisions similar to the laws it considered would never be constitutional. Instead, it held that the “District Court applied the correct legal standard” when it “weighed the asserted benefits against the burdens.” The district court here explicitly refused to “weigh the asserted benefits” stating that to do so “would be impermissible judicial practice.”

In light of Hellerstedt the district court erred in so ruling. On remand, the district court should, at the very least, weigh the state’s “asserted benefits.”

Judge Shepherd was alluding to a fact too often ignored when courts routinely overturn this two-sided, commonsense requirement: there are real benefits to women to have their abortionist affiliated with a nearby hospital, beginning with continuity of care and “responsible participation of the patient in her own medical care,” but extending far beyond that.

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Admitting privileges Blog Judicial Missouri

8th Circuit rules that Missouri can enforce protective abortion law

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bobby Shepherd

Back in May 2017, pro-life Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs that blocked state laws requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and abortion clinics to meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers.

Good news.

Earlier today Reuters’ Nate Raymond reported “The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overturned a 2017 ruling that blocked enforcement of those laws.” The three judge panel “said it did not have enough information to determine how easily abortion clinics could obtain waivers from the licensing rules and whether those requirements posed an undue burden on clinics,” Raymond added. “U.S. Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd, who wrote the opinion, said the lower-court judge also erred by not considering the state’s arguments about the benefits of the provision requiring doctors who perform abortions be affiliated with hospitals.”

Shepherd wrote

Invoking the Constitution to enjoin the laws of a state requires more than “slight implication and vague conjecture.” [A quote from a prior decision.] At a minimum, it requires adequate information and correct application of the relevant standard. Because we conclude that the preliminary injunction in this case was entered based on less than adequate information and an insufficient regard for the relevant standard, we vacate the preliminary injunction and remand.

Pro-abortionists immediately charged (as the Think Progress website put it) that the judges had “openly defied the Supreme Court” by “permitting a law that is nearly identical to the abortion restriction” the High Court struck down in its 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision.

But a mere two paragraphs later, Ian Millhiser acknowledged

In fairness, the two laws are not entirely identical. Most notably, Missouri’s law permits individual abortion clinics to see waivers from the “physical plant regulations,” and at least one such waiver has been granted for a clinic that made a “minor request.”

Judge Shepherd, of course, pointed that out in his decision. But he also clarified what Hellerstedt held: [internal citations omitted]

As noted in our prior discussion, Hellerstedt’s rendition of the undue burden standard is fairly straightforward: it “requires that courts consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits those laws confer.” Indeed it emphasized there is “an independent constitutional duty to review factual findings where constitutional rights are at stake.” Thus, Hellerstedt did not find, as a matter of law, that abortion was inherently safe or that provisions similar to the laws it considered would never be constitutional. Instead, it held that the “District Court applied the correct legal standard” when it “weighed the asserted benefits against the burdens.” The district court here explicitly refused to “weigh the asserted benefits” stating that to do so “would be impermissible judicial practice.”

In light of Hellerstedt the district court erred in so ruling. On remand, the district court should, at the very least, weigh the state’s “asserted benefits.”

Judge Shepherd was alluding to a fact too often ignored when courts routinely overturn this two-sided, commonsense requirement: there are real benefits to women to have their abortionist affiliated with a nearby hospital, beginning with continuity of care and “responsible participation of the patient in her own medical care,” but extending far beyond that.

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Admitting privileges Blog Judicial Missouri

8th Circuit rules that Missouri can enforce protective abortion law

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bobby Shepherd

Back in May 2017, pro-life Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs that blocked state laws requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and abortion clinics to meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers.

Good news.

Earlier today Reuters’ Nate Raymond reported “The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overturned a 2017 ruling that blocked enforcement of those laws.” The three judge panel “said it did not have enough information to determine how easily abortion clinics could obtain waivers from the licensing rules and whether those requirements posed an undue burden on clinics,” Raymond added. “U.S. Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd, who wrote the opinion, said the lower-court judge also erred by not considering the state’s arguments about the benefits of the provision requiring doctors who perform abortions be affiliated with hospitals.”

Shepherd wrote

Invoking the Constitution to enjoin the laws of a state requires more than “slight implication and vague conjecture.” [A quote from a prior decision.] At a minimum, it requires adequate information and correct application of the relevant standard. Because we conclude that the preliminary injunction in this case was entered based on less than adequate information and an insufficient regard for the relevant standard, we vacate the preliminary injunction and remand.

Pro-abortionists immediately charged (as the Think Progress website put it) that the judges had “openly defied the Supreme Court” by “permitting a law that is nearly identical to the abortion restriction” the High Court struck down in its 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision.

But a mere two paragraphs later, Ian Millhiser acknowledged

In fairness, the two laws are not entirely identical. Most notably, Missouri’s law permits individual abortion clinics to see waivers from the “physical plant regulations,” and at least one such waiver has been granted for a clinic that made a “minor request.”

Judge Shepherd, of course, pointed that out in his decision. But he also clarified what Hellerstedt held: [internal citations omitted]

As noted in our prior discussion, Hellerstedt’s rendition of the undue burden standard is fairly straightforward: it “requires that courts consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits those laws confer.” Indeed it emphasized there is “an independent constitutional duty to review factual findings where constitutional rights are at stake.” Thus, Hellerstedt did not find, as a matter of law, that abortion was inherently safe or that provisions similar to the laws it considered would never be constitutional. Instead, it held that the “District Court applied the correct legal standard” when it “weighed the asserted benefits against the burdens.” The district court here explicitly refused to “weigh the asserted benefits” stating that to do so “would be impermissible judicial practice.”

In light of Hellerstedt the district court erred in so ruling. On remand, the district court should, at the very least, weigh the state’s “asserted benefits.”

Judge Shepherd was alluding to a fact too often ignored when courts routinely overturn this two-sided, commonsense requirement: there are real benefits to women to have their abortionist affiliated with a nearby hospital, beginning with continuity of care and “responsible participation of the patient in her own medical care,” but extending far beyond that.

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Blog Judicial Missouri Satanic Temple waiting period

Court of Appeals unanimously rejects Satanic Temple member’s challenge to Missouri’s informed consent law

By Dave Andrusko

A win, at least for now. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a member of the Satanic Temple could not challenge Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period/informed consent law because she was not pregnant at the time of her lawsuit and therefore lacked standing. The three-judge panel unanimously upheld a federal appeal court’s dismissal.

The judges wrote that “although ‘[p]regnancy provides a classic justification for a conclusion of nonmootness,’ the doctrine does not apply here because she did not first establish standing.”

However, as NRL News Today reported in January, the Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of “Mary Doe,” the “same plaintiff in the Eighth Circuit case [who] was pregnant when she sued,” according to Courthouse News Service.

Missouri’s law has a 72 hour waiting period between the time a woman first meets an abortionist and (if she goes forward) has an abortion. It also requires that a booklet be made available and that the woman be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound and to hear the fetal heartbeat.

The sentence in the booklet which Doe argues “promotes a religious doctrine she does not believe in” says, “(t)he life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling,” Mary Compton, communications director for Attorney General Joshua Hawley, said in a statement. “The attorney general’s office will continue to vigorously defend Missouri’s sensible waiting period law.”

After her abortion, citing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Doe and the Satanic Temple filed suit against the State of Missouri at both the federal and state levels in an effort to obtain an exemption. Doe’s complaint asserts “The decision [to abort] is substantially motivated and informed by Mary Doe’s belief in the Tenets [of the Satanic Temple],” adding, “Thus its implementation, i.e., getting an abortion, is the ‘exercise of religion’ protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”

In a fine story, Heather Clark provides abundant background both to the case and to the Satanic Temple.

Clark noted of the complaint

that Doe doesn’t believe “as a matter of religious faith” that life begins at conception, but that she rather feels that she is simply aborting “tissue” that is “part of her body, and not a separate, unique, living human being.” However, it also stated that Doe “felt guilt and shame” for declining to hear the heartbeat of her unborn child during the ultrasound that is required 72 hours before the abortion.

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Abortion Blog Democrats Missouri Politics

Having learned nothing Missouri Democrats re-embrace “unwavering commitment” to abortion

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. My family and I will be on our vacation through September 7. I will occasionally add new items but for the most part we will repost “the best of the best” — the stories our readers have told us they especially liked.

Well, that didn’t last long.

Josh Hawley

Back in early July, the Missouri Democratic Party amended its platform so as to welcome “a diversity of views on abortion.”

Specifically it read, “We respect the conscience of each Missourian and recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, such as abortion. We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength, and welcome into our ranks all Missourians who may hold differing positions on this issue.”

That lasted all the way up until last Saturday, writes Jason Hancock of the Kansas City Star, when the party’s central committee replaced that language with “A woman’s right to choose and the right of every person to their own bodily autonomy and to be free from government intrusion in medical decisions, including a decision to carry a pregnancy to term, and oppose any efforts to limit access to reproductive health care.”

Stephen Webber, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, said, “Missouri Democrats are strongest when we fight together.”

[W]e saw that at our State Committee meeting today when our members stood united to pass a platform that clearly demonstrates our Party’s unwavering commitment to defend the right of all Missourians to access reproductive health care without interference from the government.

Democrats will continue to fight [to] defend the full spectrum of women’s reproductive rights ensured in Roe v. Wade, including the right to safely end a pregnancy, to safely carry a pregnancy to term, and the right to raise your family in a safe and healthy environment.

Why the turnabout? “We made a mistake,” said Annie Rice, an alderwoman in St. Louis. Alison Dreith, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, chimed in with her two cents worth.

 

Sen. Claire McCaskill

“Democrats needs to step up and fight for women, the base of the party, and their quick reversal on the disappointing vote to include anti-choice language in the party platform shows they’re ready to do that,” she said. Dreith added, “The Democratic Party’s overwhelming vote to re-prioritize reproductive freedom has put the party back on track just in time to pick up wins in November. This vote just goes to show that when women organize, women win.”

Of course, that “winning” formula has cost Democrats all over the state and state-wide in Missouri. Republicans control both houses of the state legislature, one U.S. Senate seat, and the governor’s office.

Incumbent pro-abortion Senator Claire McCaskill is in a closely fought battle against pro-life Republic Attorney General Josh Hawley.

If Democrats continue (in Dreith’s words) to “overwhelmingly vote to re-prioritize reproductive freedom,” they will indeed be “back on track” again– to electoral oblivion.

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