Judge issues injunction against Mo. abortion law
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Monday barring the state from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics until it can negotiate a compromise with abortion providers.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith, of Kansas City, left attorneys for both the state and for abortion providers claiming victory.
State attorneys were pleased because Smith said abortion providers were unlikely to be able to prove their claim that the law itself imposed an unconstitutional obstacle to getting an abortion.
But attorneys for abortion providers were pleased because Smith said that if the state health department insisted upon the most stringent interpretation possible, the renovations required of some abortion clinics could prove so costly they could infringe on the right to an abortion.
The judge noted the Department of Health and Senior Services has expressed a willingness to consider exceptions to some of its physical building requirements. He directed abortion providers to apply for specific waivers and directed the state to consider those requests while explaining to clinics what they can do that would be satisfactory.
Smith also granted a victory to abortion providers in ruling that the state likely would impose an unconstitutional burden on the right to an abortion if it enforced the new regulations on facilities that offer only medically induced -- not surgical -- abortions.
At is issue a law that was supposed to take effect Aug. 28 classifying some additional abortion clinics as outpatient surgery centers, thus making them subject to state oversight.