Preliminary injunction issued against abortion law

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A state judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state from implementing a new law allowing lawsuits against people who help minors obtain abortions without their parents' consent.

Monday's order extends an October ruling from Jackson County Circuit Judge Charles Atwell, who had issued a temporary restraining order against the law after Planned Parenthood sued to block it.

Atwell said he was issuing the preliminary injunction to give himself more time to consider the complex issues raised by the new law. He did not set a deadline for a final ruling.

In October, Atwell said the law likely violated constitutional rights to free speech and due process and could cause irreparable harm to Planned Parenthood and its patients.

His ruling applied only to the civil liability portion of the abortion law, which allows parents to sue people who "intentionally cause, aid or assist" their minor daughters in getting abortions without their consent. A portion of the law that requires doctors performing abortions to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles went into effect after a Springfield clinic that had challenged the measure closed.

During an October hearing before Atwell, Planned Parenthood's attorney, Eve Gartner, argued that the "intentionally cause, aid or assist" passage could be widely interpreted to prohibit offering any advice to a pregnant minor, even if she never went through with an abortion. She said that violated the right to free speech.

Assistant Attorney General Vickie Mahon argued that it was unfair to look at only one passage of the law. She said the law might raise concerns about First Amendment rights only if someone provided information on crossing state lines to obtain an abortion elsewhere.

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